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2024 Alzheimer's Association Research Grant to Promote Diversity (AARG-D)

Lifecourse Vascular Contributions to Dementia Among Diverse Older Adults

How do cardiovascular risk factors in early life contribute to one’s lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s?

Kristen George, Ph.D.
University of California- Davis
Davis, CA - United States


Many researchers believe that there is not a single cause of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, but rather, they develop over time as a result of several factors including lifestyle, environment, and genetics. Studies have shown that chronic diseases such as hypertension, obesity, and type 2 diabetes not only impact one’s cardiovascular risk, or one’s likelihood of having a heart attack but may also contribute to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life. However, the precise mechanisms for this are unknown. Additionally, even though older non-Hispanic Black Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans are disproportionately more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular risk factors and their association with Alzheimer’s have largely been studied in older White Americans. 

Research Plan

Dr. Kristen George and colleagues will examine the links between cardiovascular risk factors and one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life in a diverse cohort of older adults. They will do this by leveraging clinical data from two databases: the Study of Healthy Aging in African Americans (STAR) and the Kaiser Healthy Aging and Diverse Life Experiences (KHANDLE). Collectively, these databases include comprehensive medical histories for older adults that include cognitive assessments, brain imaging, cardiovascular risk factors (high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol), as well as social determinants of health (education, income, race/ethnicity). Lastly, the researchers will study how APOE-e4 (a gene variation linked to Alzheimer’s risk) may contribute to both cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s risk.


The results of this project could shed new light on our understanding of the mechanisms linking cardiovascular risk in early life with one’s lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s. They may also lead to new treatments and prevention strategies for those at greatest risk of developing the disease.

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