Vascular risk factors appear to hasten the risk of cognitive decline in normal older individuals with evidence of very early Alzheimer’s-disease-associated changes in the brain. These risk factors for heart disease and stroke increase the risk of cognitive impairment in older individuals and appear to have a negative synergistic effect with levels of brain amyloid-beta, the protein that aggregates into neurotoxic plaques in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s.
In a report published in JAMA Neurology, investigators of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) describe finding that the combination of increased vascular risk and higher brain amyloid levels predicted even faster cognitive decline in clinically normal older individuals than would be expected based on the independent effects of both factors.
“Our findings suggest that having vascular risk factors like diabetes, smoking, and high blood pressure may accelerate the rate of cognitive decline in normal older adults, and that the effect of vascular risk on decline is magnified in people with higher brain amyloid levels,” says Jennifer Rabin, PhD, a clinical and research fellow in the MGH Department of Psychiatry, lead author of the paper. “Our findings support the rationale behind targeting modifiable vascular risk factors either alone or in combination with amyloid-lowering therapies to delay cognitive decline. Measures of vascular risk also may be able to complement existing biomarkers in identifying people at the greatest risk of cognitive decline.”
Source: ScienceDaily | May 21, 2018