Lowering blood pressure may help cut risk of early dementia, study finds

Drastically lowering blood pressure may help protect memory and thinking skills later in life, researchers reported Monday — the first hopeful sign that it’s possible to lower rates of mental decline.

The large blood pressure study looked at more than 9,000 people over the age of 50 years old found that those who lowered their blood pressure to 120 — the top number, or systolic blood pressure — were 19 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, the loss of memory and brain processing power that usually precedes Alzheimer’s disease. The results of the study, called Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, or SPRINT, were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

It has long been known that aggressively lowering blood pressure can benefit those at high risk for heart disease, but this is the first time that the intervention has been shown to also help brain health.

Full story at NBC News

A good night’s sleep could lower cardiovascular risk

Can the duration and quality of your sleep affect your cardiovascular health? A new study suggests there is a connection between how much sleep you get each night — and how well you sleep — and the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Many studies have emphasized the importance of sleep in maintaining our health and well-being in general. Increasingly, however, researchers are finding out how sleep quality affects specific aspects of a person’s health.

For instance, one recent study that was covered by Medical News Today found that poor sleep could well be a telltale sign of the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study tied sleep problems with high blood pressure, at least in women.

Full story at Medical News Today

Alcohol may prime the brain for Alzheimer’s, but how?

Some studies have suggested that alcohol consumption could expose people to a heightened risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life. But the mechanics behind this relationship have been unclear — until now.

Alzheimer’s disease affects a person’s memory, as well as their reasoning and decision-making abilities.

In the brain, Alzheimer’s is characterized by the formation of beta-amyloid plaques.

These sticky clumps of the amyloid beta protein interfere with signals transmitted between brain cells, therefore obstructing the circulation of information in the brain.

Full story at Medical News Today

Antiepileptic drugs increase risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia

The use of antiepileptic drugs is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, DZNE. Continuous use of antiepileptic drugs for a period exceeding one year was associated with a 15 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the Finnish dataset, and with a 30 percent increased risk of dementia in the German dataset.

Some antiepileptic drugs are known to impair cognitive function, which refers to all different aspects of information processing. When the researchers compared different antiepileptic drugs, they found that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia was specifically associated with drugs that impair cognitive function. These drugs were associated with a 20 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and with a 60 percent increased risk of dementia.

The researchers also found that the higher the dose of a drug that impairs cognitive function, the higher the risk of dementia. However, other antiepileptic drugs, i.e. those which do not impair cognitive processing, were not associated with the risk.

Full story at Science Daily

Alzheimer’s drug repairs brain damage after alcohol binges in rodents

A drug used to slow cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease could offer clues on how drugs might one day be able to reverse brain changes that affect learning and memory in teens and young adults who binge drink.

In a study led by Duke Health and published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, scientists demonstrate in rats that a short duration of the drug donepezil can reverse both structural and genetic damage that bouts of alcohol use causes in neurons, or nerve cells, in the young brain.

There is limited research on the extent to which alcohol effects the developing brain in teens and adolescents, but it’s evident that drinking during adolescence causes changes in the brain. Much of the research has looked specifically at the hippocampus, which is linked to learning and memory. Whether those changes are permanent is unknown.

Full story at Science Daily