FROM THE ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
ALZHEIMER’S RISK FACTORS MAY BE MEASURABLE IN ADOLESCENTS AND YOUNG ADULTS
CHICAGO, July 30, 2020 — Risk factors for Alzheimer’s dementia may be apparent as early as our teens and 20s, according to new research reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® (AAIC®) 2020. These risk factors, many of which are disproportionately apparent in African Americans, include heart health factors — such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes — and social factors like education quality.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, older African Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer's or other dementias as older whites.
“By identifying, verifying, and acting to counter those Alzheimer’s risk factors that we can change, we may reduce new cases and eventually the total number of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia,” said Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer. “Research like this is important in addressing health inequities and providing resources that could make a positive impact on a person’s life.”
“These new reports from AAIC 2020 show that it's never too early, or too late, to take action to protect your memory and thinking abilities,” Carrillo said. The Alzheimer’s Association is leading the U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER), a two-year clinical trial to evaluate whether lifestyle interventions that simultaneously target many risk factors protect cognitive function in older adults who are at increased risk for cognitive decline. U.S. POINTER is the first such study to be conducted in a large, diverse group of Americans across the United States, and Rhode Island became the fifth site of the study beginning in June in partnership with the Alzheimer's Association and Butler Hospital and The Miriam Hospital.
"Rhode Island is the fifth site across the country to be hosting this study, so having people engage in this research is vitally important to understand how lifestyle changes affect your long-term health, said Donna M. McGowan, Executive Director, Alzheimer's Association, Rhode Island Chapter. "Understanding how our behavior, including as children, impacts our bodies over time will certainly help our society to address systemic health risks through more public health efforts and intervention among all populations."
Rhode Island researchers attending and presenting at the conference and those helping to lead the US POINTER study in Rhode Island also saw the magnitude of the work.
The search is on to identify modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease," said Stephen Salloway, M.D., M.S., Director of Neurology and the Memory and Aging Program, Butler Hospital and Professor of Neurology at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. "These findings provide new evidence that regulating blood pressure, blood sugar and weight and facilitating high quality education early in life could really make a difference in protecting against dementia.”
"Our understanding of the deeply complex nature of Alzheimer's disease has evolved substantially in recent years, and we are beginning to appreciate that risk for Alzheimer’s disease is likely a lifetime in the making for many individuals. Higher educational attainment has been long recognized as a protective factor against risk for untimely cognitive decline, a concept known in our field as cognitive reserve," said Jonathan D. Drake, M.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Assistant Director of the Alzheimer's Disease & Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital. "More recent research has shown us that poorer early-life cardiovascular health from factors such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes also influences risk for Alzheimer’s disease much later in life. What is compelling about the studies presented at this year’s AAIC is that they highlight the fact that these risk factors can disproportionally affect people who have less access to quality education and healthcare, especially for segments of our population who tend to be more prone to vascular risk factors earlier in life, such as African Americans.
"The good news is that risk factors such as lifelong cardiovascular health and educational attainment—together along with other aspects of lifestyle which are estimated to account for at least 30% of one’s eventual risk for Alzheimer’s disease—are modifiable, meaning that taking prevention and health disparity seriously can have a significantly positive impact on the brain health of our entire population."
If you would like to request interviews and/or need abstracts about the information presented please reach back out to email@example.com.
The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.