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Hypertension Common in Children of Alzheimer's Patients

Reported November 06, 2009


(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- High blood pressure, evidence of arterial disease and markers of inflammation in the blood are more common in middle-aged individuals whose parents have Alzheimer's disease than in individuals without a parental history of the condition.

Previous studies estimate that as much as 60 percent of the risk for Alzheimer's disease is genetic. Other research has identified vascular and inflammatory risk factors in midlife that may be associated with a later transition into cognitive decline related to Alzheimer's disease.

Eric van Exel, M.D., Ph.D., of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, and colleagues compared vascular and inflammatory factors, such as high blood pressure and blood levels of pro-inflammatory proteins known as cytokines, between 206 offspring of 92 families with a history of Alzheimer's disease and 200 offspring of 97 families without a parental history.

 

 

More individuals whose parents had Alzheimer's disease carried the APOE e4 gene, known to be associated with the condition, than did those with no family history. In addition, those with a family history had higher blood pressure, a lower ankle brachial index (ratio of ankle to arm systolic blood pressure, a sign of artery disease) and higher levels of several different pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Other cardiovascular risk factors -- such as high blood cholesterol and glucose levels -- were not associated with parental Alzheimer's disease, and thus may not be as closely linked to cognitive decline.

"Our study shows that high blood pressure and an innate pro-inflammatory cytokine response in middle age significantly contribute to Alzheimer's disease," study authors wrote. "As these risk factors cluster in families, it is important to realize that early interventions could prevent late-onset Alzheimer's disease. One could argue for a high-risk prevention strategy by identifying the offspring of patients with Alzheimer's disease, screening them for hypertension and vascular factors and implementing various non-pharmacological health measures."

SOURCE: Archives of General Psychiatry, November, 2009