A new study reports that healthy aging of the brain relies on the health of your heart and blood vessels when you’re younger.
People with risk factors for heart disease and stroke in middle age are more likely to have elevated levels of amyloid, a sticky protein known to clump together and form plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers said.
MRI scans revealed larger deposits of amyloid in the brains of seniors who were obese, had diabetes or had elevated cholesterol levels when they were middle-aged, said lead researcher Dr. Rebecca Gottesman, an assistant professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Obesity in particular stood out as a strong risk factor, on its own doubling a person’s risk of elevated amyloid later in life, reported Steven Austad, chair of Biology of Aging and the Evolution of Life Histories at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
“In terms of one risk factor, obesity turned out to be the most important one, which is interesting,” Austad said. “Twenty years ago obesity was not the problem that it is now, suggesting that 20 years from now things might be considerably worse.”
Gottesman and her colleagues examined data from nearly 350 people whose heart health has been tracked since 1987 as part of an ongoing study. The average follow-up time was almost 24 years.
When the participants entered the study, none of them had dementia. About two decades later, they were asked to come back and undergo brain scans to check for signs of amyloid. The researchers discovered a link between heart risk factors, obesity and brain amyloid. The relationship did not vary based either on race or known genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s.
Based on these findings, obesity prevention and treatment could prove to be an effective and safe approach to preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
“You don’t want to wait until your 60s to start taking care of yourself. It has to be a lifetime commitment,” Fargo said.
If you’d like to learn more about how a bariatric procedure might help you to gain better health, both in your body and in your brain, get in touch with one of our Program Advisors today at (888) 278-7952 or Connect through our website at https://www.smartshape.ca/connect-today/