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6 November 2012
New thinking on vascular disease and Alzheimer's

A significant link between Alzheimer's disease and vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes type 2, and heart disease might point to new ways to delay - or prevent - the onset of Alzheimer's, according to research in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. Specifically, researchers are examining how vascular disease can affect cerebral blood flow and impair signaling, factors contributing to Alzheimer's disease.

Interestingly, the researchers note that vascular risk factors in middle age are associated with the development of Alzheimer's more strongly than late-life vascular disease. In fact, some research suggests that vascular symptoms later in life may actually have a protective effect against the development of the disease.

To date, trials that target major cardiovascular risk factors in the prevention of Alzheimer's remain inconclusive but have become an important focus of international research. Promising avenues for treatment, such as 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 drugs reduce the risk and progression of Alzheimer's are currently being investigated.

"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," noted Jack C. de la Torre, of the University of Texas, Austin. "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."

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Source: Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

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