(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
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
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