Hypertension 'multiplies' genetic dementia risk

People genetically predisposed to Alzheimer's disease face an even greater risk of the disease if they develop hypertension, a study has shown.

Controlling BP in patients with a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's could slow progression of the disease
Controlling BP in patients with a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's could slow progression of the disease

Researchers said better BP control could reduce the risk among patients with the genetic flaw.

Hypertension has previously been linked to Alzheimer’s, with studies showing hypertension in middle age can lead to poorer cognitive performance and dementia in later life.

Different versions of the gene for apolipoprotein E ε4 (ΑPOE ε4), a protein that transfers cholesterol into neurons, is a well known cause of plaques that are thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease.

The study of 118 people, carried out by Karen Rodrigue PhD at the University of Texas in Dallas and colleagues, found those with a certain ΑPOE ε4 allele were more likely to develop amyloid plaques if suffering from hypertension.

Researchers also revealed that even subjects that did not carry the genetic risk factor but suffered from unmedicated hypertension also displayed increased amyloid deposition.

Pulse pressure was also shown to influence amyloid deposition in people who carried risk factors, predicting a higher amyloid burden than in people who tested negative for the risk factor.

These findings suggest that people at risk ‘may be able to attenuate their likelihood for amyloid accumulation through proper control of BP’, researchers said.

They added: 'The identification of hypertension as an additional risk factor for amyloid plaque deposition is encouraging as we may be able to prevent, or at least slow, pathological ageing in some individuals through lifestyle modification or pharmacological intervention.'

Alzheimer’s disease, caused through proteopathy of amyloid beta and amyloid tau proteins in the brain, affects 35 million people around the world and is predicted it will affect 65 million people by 2030. It is the most common cause of dementia and cannot be cured.

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