The same genes that may cause Alzheimer's may also be spurred on by high blood pressure, according to a study headed by Karen Rodrigue of the University of Texas at Dallas.
In a study of cognitively normal adults, levels of beta-amyloid - found in larger amounts in individuals with Alzheimer's - were highest in those with hypertension and the E4 variant of the apolipoprotein E gene, also known as ApoE4 (also associated with increased risk of Alzheimer's).
However, those who had just one of these did not show abnormal amounts of beta-amyloid.
Furthermore, among individuals with a genetic risk for Alzheimer's, those who were not medicated for hypertension but suffered from it had higher levels of beta-amyloid than those who were medicated. In addition, those who were medicated only had slightly higher levels than those without hypertension.
Luckily, hypertension responds quickly and easily to medication. For this reason, doctors are hailing the results of the study as good news.
What's more, because the ApoE4 is related to increased cholesterol, Rordrigue and her colleagues wonder if it and beta-amyloid are somehow complementary the way high cholesterol and hypertension are.
Sure enough, when participants were grouped according to their genetic risk for Alzheimer's, blood pressure did not have an effect on the levels of beta-amyloid on those without the ApoE4.
In other words, if this study proves accurate, by simply treating hypertension, individuals at risk for Alzheimer's may be able to delay or even stave off completely the disease.
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