Are changes in the heart and blood vessels from stress an early sign of dementia?
Antoine Trammell, M.D., M.P.H
Atlanta, GA - United States
Stress affects heart and blood vessel health both of which are linked to risk for later life dementia. Researchers have found that stress increases levels of the hormone “aldosterone”, which activates a hormonal system that regulates blood pressure control and stress response and may also increase the risk of dementia. High levels of aldosterone could impact the response of heart and blood vessels to stressful situations called “cardiovascular reactivity” or CVR.
Dr. Antoine Trammell and colleagues will study the effects a drug Aldactone that is typically used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure. Aldactone blocks the effects of the hormone, aldosterone. To conduct their study, the researchers will recruit 30 black/African American participants with mild cognitive impairment who are over the age of 50. The researchers will divide the participants into two groups – one that receives the drug and the other a dummy drug, for 1 year. Dr. Trammell’s team will collect blood samples from participants before and after the treatment to assess the impact of the drug on the levels of aldosterone. Dr. Trammell believes that the drug will be associated with lower rate of cognitive decline and may preserve cognitive performance. Furthermore, Dr. Trammell and colleagues will also the study the impact of the drug on CVR by measuring CVR in participants before and after the treatment
The study results may shed light on the biological mechanisms underlying stress and how it could contribute to an increase in dementia risk. If successful, the study could shed light on novel factors that play a role in risk and give rise to new research directions to target these contributing factors.
This project is sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association, Colorado Chapter.
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