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Heart problems 'could lead to Alzheimer's'

Heart problems 'could lead to Alzheimer's'
1st April 2014

New research has suggested that keeping the heart healthy could reduce  person's chances of developing Alzheimer's disease.

A California-based study found that individuals in their 20s who had low blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure were found to have better brain function 25 years later.

In contrast, those who displayed even small issues with their hearts scored poorly on cognitive tests in middle-age.

Dr Kristine Yaffe, lead author of the report, said: "It's amazing that as a young adult, mildly elevated cardiovascular risks seem to matter for your brain health later in life.

"We're not talking about old age issues, but lifelong issues."

The study is one of the first long-term research projects to take place that tries to understand the link between heart issues and brain deterioration.

Scientists at the University of California analysed approximately 3,300 people over 25 years, all of whom started the study when they were between 18 and 30 years old.

Every two to five years they would have their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol tested by the research team.

At the end, participants would take a test to measure their thinking speed, another to analyse their flexibility and a third to calculate their memory function - the results of which were published in the journal Circulation.

Those with levels above what is recommended for someone in their 20s scored lower on these tests, which they took when they were in their 40s and 50s.

The team believe that these results are positive and give them a better understanding of why the brain can be affected by Alzheimer's disease.

Dr Yaffe said: "'Our study is hopeful, because it tells us we could maybe make a dent in the risks of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia by emphasising the importance of controlling risk factors among younger people."

Approximately 800,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with dementia, while that figure is expected to rise to over one million by 2021.

Find out more about Alzheimer's disease care at Barchester homes.