Alzheimer’s to triple by 2050, so proclaimed a recent newspaper headline. The new estimates published in the journal Neurology suggest that the number of U.S. residents with Alzheimer’s disease will grow from 5 million today to almost 14 million by 2050.
According to the National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer’s represents a looming health epidemic as the population ages. They point out that current drugs can treat symptoms however there are no medications that can cure Alzheimer’s or stop the progression of disease.
Jennifer Weuve, assistant professor of medicine at Rush Medical Center in Chicago and co-author of the paper published in Neurology referred to earlier, says, “Our study draws attention to an urgent need for more research, treatments and preventive strategies to reduce this epidemic.” Fortunately, progress continues to be made on the prevention front, with more evidence supporting the relationship between heart health and brain health.
A study published in the March 18th issue of the journal JAMA Neurology found that keeping blood pressure, a known risk factor for heart disease, under control may reduce the development of brain plaque, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s. This is especially true for those who have a genetic predisposition for the disease. According to Karen Rodrigue, lead author and assistant professor of behavioral and brain sciences at the University of Texas in Dallas, “maintaining good vascular health by avoiding or controlling diseases like hypertension has important benefits beyond keeping your heart healthy. It may promote good brain health as we age.”