Emerging research suggests interventions to address pathological, biochemical, and physiological processes may delay or reverse Alzheimer’s disease.
Over the last 15 years, researchers have found a significant association between vascular diseases such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes type 2, hyperlipidemia, heart disease and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
This clinical association has led many researchers to believe they are on the cusp of discovering methods to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. The findings of an international group of experts are presented in a special issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
“Vascular risk factors to Alzheimer’s disease offer the possibility of markedly reducing incident dementia by early identification and appropriate medical management of these likely precursors of cognitive deterioration and dementia,” said guest editor Jack C. de la Torre, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Texas, Austin, and the Center for Alzheimer’s Research, Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Sun City, Ariz.
“Improved understanding coupled with preventive strategies could be a monumental step forward in reducing worldwide prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, which is doubling every 20 years.”
In the issue, researchers explain how vascular disease can affect cerebral blood flow and impair signaling, contributing to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The diagnostics of cardiovascular risk factors in AD are addressed, as are potential therapeutic approaches.
Paradoxically, midlife vascular risk factors increase the risk of AD more strongly that late-life vascular disease. In fact, some research suggests that vascular symptoms later in life may have a protective effect against the development of the disease.
This phenomenon is reviewed from a physiopathological basis in the journal. To date, trials that target major cardiovascular risk factors in the prevention of AD remain inconclusive but have become an important focus of international research.
Experts believe future research should address the multiple factor that influence AD and include a timeframe for optimal intervention.
Promising avenues for treatment include the potential of low-level light therapy to increase the rate of oxygen consumption in the brain and enhance cortical metabolic capacity, and the possibility that some antihypertensive drug classes reduce the risk and progression of AD more than others, are discussed.
Dr. de la Torre notes that the presence of vascular risk factors is not an absolute pathway to dementia, and it may be as important to study how or why individuals who are cognitively normal but have vascular risk are able to avoid dementia.
“Reducing Alzheimer’s disease prevalence by focusing right now on vascular risk factors to Alzheimer’s disease, even with our limited technology, is not a simple or easy task. But the task must begin somewhere and without delay because time is running out for millions of people whose destiny with dementia may start sooner rather than later,” he concludes.
Source: IOS Press