The largest genetic study of Alzheimer’s disease to date finds that a “handful of gene variants” increases some people’s risk of both dementia and cardiovascular disease. The findings imply that, in principle, we may be able to repurpose some cardiovascular drugs to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease
The research team used “large genome-wide association studies and validated tools” to examine the DNA of over 1.5 million people.
Specifically, the team examined the differences in the DNA of people who had risk factors for heart disease, such as a high body mass index (BMI), type 2 diabetes, and high triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Overall, the analysis found 90 points in the genome, called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), that had an associated risk of both Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.
The scientists identified these 90 SNPs across a total of 19 chromosomes.
Six of these 90 SNPs both strongly influenced Alzheimer’s disease risk and raised the levels of blood lipids — a finding that confirmed the results of previous studies.