What is the link between heart disease and Alzheimer's?

What is the link between heart disease and Alzheimer's?
There is a strong link between cardiovascular diseases and Alzheimer's ©Shutterstock

Turns out, genetics may predispose some people to both Alzheimer's disease and high levels of blood lipids such as cholesterol, a common feature of the cardiovascular disease.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : November 12, 2018 12:03 PM IST

Many studies have shown that patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease also show signs of cardiovascular disease and that the brains of many Alzheimer's patients show signs of vascular disease. Now scientists have found out that your genes may be able to determine if you are predisposed to Alzheimer's disease and high levels of blood lipids such as cholesterol. According to researchers at the UC San Francisco and Washington University School of Medicine in their new study, published in the journal of Acta Neuropathologica, Alzheimer's and cardiovascular disease do share common genetics in some individuals. Scientists are now trying to find out whether this shared biology could be targeted to slow down or prevent both diseases.

Researcher Rahul Desikan said that cardiovascular and Alzheimer's pathology co-occur because they are linked genetically. So if you carry gene variants you may be at risk for not only heart disease but also Alzheimer's.

The researchers also found that though patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's also often exhibit other cardiovascular risk factors, such as unhealthy levels of belly fat, type 2 diabetes, and chest pain or other symptoms of coronary artery disease, there was no clear overlapping genetics between Alzheimer's disease and these risk factors.

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In an earlier study by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, it was revealed that healthy heart can help prevent Alzheimer's disease. Poor heart function had been blamed as a major risk for Alzheimer's disease. The study noted that participants with decreased heart function were two to three times more likely to develop significant memory loss.

Some of the common symptoms of Alzheimer's include memory loss, trouble in planning and problem solving, difficulty in performing daily tasks, confusion about time and place, changes in vision, and associated frustration and social withdrawal. Some triggers or risk factors for Alzheimer's include age, family history of the disease, certain lifestyle disorders such as diabetes, prior head injury, sleep disorders, and stress.