Over the last 15 years, researchers have found a significant association between vascular diseases such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes type 2, hyperlipidemia, and heart disease and an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. In a special issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, leading experts provide a comprehensive overview of the pathological, biochemical, and physiological processes that contribute to Alzheimer's disease risk and ways that may delay or reverse these age-related abnormalities.
"Vascular risk factors to Alzheimer's disease offer the possibility of markedly reducing incident dementia by early identification and appropriate medical management of these likely precursors of cognitive deterioration and dementia," says Guest Editor Jack C. de la Torre, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas, Austin. "Improved understanding coupled with preventive strategies could be a monumental step forward in reducing worldwide prevalence of Alzheimer's disease, which is doubling every 20 years."
The issue explores how vascular disease can affect cerebral blood flow and impair signaling, contributing to Alzheimer's disease (AD). The diagnostics of cardiovascular risk factors in AD are addressed, as are potential therapeutic approaches.
Paradoxically, the presence of vascular risk factors in middle age is associated with the development of AD more strongly than late-life vascular disease. In fact, some research suggests that vascular symptoms later in life may have a protective effect against the development of the disease. The physiopathological mechanisms that may underlie this phenomenon are discussed.