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Cardiovascular Risk Factors Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

Of eight risk factors present in one-third of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, six are known to be risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD): midlife obesity, physical inactivity, midlife hypertension, diabetes, current smoking and depression. The presence of these risk factors varied by race and ethnicity. The finding comes from data on 378,615 participants in the 2018 CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (JAMA Neurology, May 9). Midlife obesity was found to be present in nearly 18%, physical inactivity in 11.8% and low education in 11.7% of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.  Midlife obesity was the most common risk factor associated with cognitive disorders in African Americans, whites, Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Limited education featured most prominently in Hispanics and physical inactivity in Asians.  Whether controlling these risk factors lowers the likelihood of developing dementia in addition to heart attack and stroke will require a prospective study to answer.

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