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High Blood Pressure May Add to Alzheimer's Risk, Study Finds
Date:3/18/2013

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- High blood pressure in people with a genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease may spur development of brain plaque, a hallmark of the age-related brain disorder, a new study suggests.

The findings suggest yet another reason for keeping blood pressure, also known as hypertension, under control, the researchers said.

"Maintaining good vascular health by avoiding or controlling diseases like hypertension has important benefits beyond keeping your heart healthy. It may promote good brain health as we age," said lead researcher Karen Rodrigue, an assistant professor of behavioral and brain sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas.

This is especially so for people who are genetically at risk for Alzheimers disease, the study suggested. "Keeping good vascular health may limit or delay the brain changes associated with Alzheimer's disease and other aging-related neurological deterioration," Rodrigue said.

No cure exist for Alzheimer's, and experts anticipate that by 2050 the number of Americans with the brain disease will approach 14 million if no progress is made.

The study of nearly 120 adults found that people with this genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease -- called an apolipoprotein E 4 allele -- plus untreated high blood pressure have more beta-amyloid plaques compared to those with just one or neither of these risk factors.

One expert said the findings have important implications.

"This is good news," said Dr. Sam Gandy, associate director of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in New York City.

"This means that yet another simple intervention -- here, blood pressure control, but think also of physical exercise -- can have an important impact on dementia risk and rate of progression," Gandy said. "We must not overlook these simple effective interventions while developing new therapies.
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