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Board Member in the News: Scientific Director Steven Austad on high-risk factors for heart disease linked to later-in-life Alzheimer’s disease in HealthDay BACK
On April 11, 2017, HealthDay News featured insights from AFAR’s Scientific Director Steven Austad, PhD on a study revealing middle-aged people who were high-risk for heart disease were more likely to have elevated brain amyloid deposition (proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease) decades later.
The article, A Healthy Middle-Aged Heart May Protect Your Brain Later, describes a study that examined heart health data from nearly 350 participants, around 52 years of age, and followed-up using brain scans about 25 years later. None of these participants started the study with dementia, but the follow-ups found that a participant with two or more risk factors nearly tripled their risk of large amyloid deposits.
Dr. Austad, representing AFAR, highlighted that obesity stood out as the strongest risk factor, solely doubling the participant’s risk of higher amyloid levels later in life. He explains: "In terms of one risk factor by itself, that turned out to be the most important one, which is interesting. Twenty years ago obesity was not the problem that it is now, suggesting that 20 years from now things might be considerably worse."
He also explains that this research supports the established theory of unhealthy brain blood vessels leaking its amyloid contents into the bloodstream and brain tissue, causing the first injury to the brain.
The full article can be read here.
Steven Austad, PhD is a Distinguished Professor and Department Chair in the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, we encourage you to explore our expert-edited Infoaging Guide to Alzheimer’s disease here.