Even though the researchers haven't yet found a definite cause for Alzheimer's disease, a new study suggests that liver health influences the risk of Alzheimer's disease development.
It's the first time a single step has been clearly shown to help prevent a dreaded condition that has had people trying crossword puzzles, diet supplements and a host of other things in hope of keeping their mind sharp.
"We have preliminary data that they may act on tau, which is one of the two pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease", she says.
"This is a big breakthrough", said Dr. Jeff Williamson of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina. The results of the work they told at the global conference of the Association for the fight against Alzheimer's disease in Chicago. Neurology Advisor's staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in neurology.
Similarly, participants' combined risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and dementia dropped by 15% in the group with lower blood pressure.
The study looked at more than 9,000 people. There is no cure - current medicines such as Aricept and Namenda just ease symptoms - so prevention is key. Normal is under 120. But it's not been known if lowering pressure would reduce that risk or by how much.
Of these, they then 83 to test in cells, and selected the most promising six of those to take forward in mice.
In fact, in the 2 years after the study was stopped, people in the group that had been aggressively managed saw their blood pressure start to creep back up. Half got two medicines, on average, to get their top reading below 140. Three focus on neurotransmitters while three more are on repositioning other existing drugs.
In a sub-study, MRI scans revealed increases in white matter for both treatment groups but a significantly smaller increase in the intensive group vs standard group (0.28cm vs 0.92cm; mean difference 0.64cm; P =.004).
The study was stopped in 2015, almost two years early, when it became clear that lower pressure helped prevent heart problems and deaths. Researchers have then continued to monitor most participants until June 2018.
In a study published in 2015, Wharton found that people with mild cognitive impairment - an early stage of dementia - who were on these types of drugs were less likely to progress to dementia, compared with people taking other types of blood pressure medications. "We want to help explain the science of what's happening in the brain with the story of the person who has the dementia that will allow caregivers to be better providers and communicators".
But "one leading hypothesis is that higher pressure affects the lining of very thin arteries in the brain", Williamson said.
There also were fewer dementia cases in the intensive-treatment group but there were too few to say lower blood pressure was the reason.
Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist and health care researcher at Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital in CT, said he sees the study more as the beginning of a conversation, rather than a hard-and-fast blood pressure target.
The studies all were conducted for the Alzheimer's Disease Metabolomics Consortium (ADMC), part of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Accelerated Medicine Partnership for Alzheimer's Disease (AMP-AD). Instead, each participant's doctor chose which ones to use from the more than a dozen available. Dr Carrillo noted that the data are consistent with recent findings which show decreased cases of dementia in developed Western cultures as people improve certain cardiovascular disease risk factors.
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