Hypertension is a Genetic Risk for Alzheimer’s

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerJanuary 21, 2015

A recent study concluded that hypertension can increase the burden of amyloid beta in the brain, which contributes to plaque formation and Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn more about this study and what it means for those with hypertension and a risk for Alzheimer’s.

The Relationship Between Hypertension and Alzheimer’s

Hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure, which can be dangerous to the heart because the heart must work harder to pump blood to the body, which contributes to the hardening of arteries. Previous studies have also linked hypertension in people already genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s, to an increased development of amyloid beta plaque, a hallmark characteristic of the disease.

Karen Rodrigue, an assistant professor of behavioral and brain sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas summed up the relationship between heart health and brain health by saying:

“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.”

She went on to say, “Keeping good vascular health may limit or delay the brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other aging-related neurological deterioration.”

Furthering the relationship between the two is a study conducted in November 2013, by Johns Hopkins University. The study concluded that certain blood pressure medication could potentially cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by half.

Hypertension May Increase Amyloid-Beta Plaques

The latest study to take a look at the relationship between hypertension and Alzheimer’s found that for people who are genetically predisposed to the disease and carry the ApoE4 gene, high blood pressure was associated with higher levels of amyloid-beta plaques in the brain.

The study evaluated over 1,000 adults from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Participants were divided into four groups: people who had the ApoE4 gene, people with high blood pressure, people with both the ApoE4 gene and people with high blood pressure, and then a control group of people with had neither risk factor.

Using imaging technology, they found that the participants in the group with both the ApoE4 gene and hypertension had more amyloid-beta plaques than the other groups.

Researchers caution that despite their findings, the number one risk factor for Alzheimer’s is still age, but believe this study shows the importance of continued studies of age-related comorbidities.

Does your loved one with Alzheimer’s also have high blood pressure? What do you think about the correlation between hypertension and Alzheimer’s? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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