Researchers hope to create a health 'scorecard

Researchers hope to create a health ‘scorecard

video: An important new study by various communities looks at how brain changes, genetics and other factors contribute to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The results could affect millions. About 65 out of 9 people over the age of 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease.
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Credit: UC Davis Health

Quick summary:

  • White matter hyperimmensity (WMH) in the brain is associated with an increased risk of dementia or cognitive impairment
  • At age 82, most people have WMH
  • The researchers hope to learn more about WMH and create a “scorecard” of risks for the development of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
  • Having a scorecard can identify ways to alleviate or delay dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Hispanics and black Americans are at greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) – UC Davis Health and University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth Houston) are leading an important new study – Diverse Vascular Contributions to Cognitive Impairment and Dementia, or Diverse VCID. The aim of the study is to predict who is most at risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Participants who participate in the study will help researchers create a “risk scoreboard” with data from brain scans, genetics, and other key biomarkers.

“We may have evidence to suggest that a person’s risks are very low. Or the person’s risks may be very high, but there are factors that contribute to diabetes or hypertension that we can address, ”said Charles DeCarli, principal investigator. DeCarli is Professor of Neurology and Director of the Alzheimer’s Research Center at UC Davis. “We hope that the risk profile will allow us to adjust the risk and potentially prevent or delay the disease.”

Diverse VCID is funded by $ 53.6 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Aging. It will run for six years and takes place in 13 different locations in 10 states.

Hyperintensities of white matter offer clues

Creating disease risk profiles is nothing new. It is known that high blood pressure puts people at risk for stroke and that high cholesterol can put people at risk for heart disease and stroke.

With the new study, researchers hope to create similar risk profiles that take into account what they learn about certain brain changes – known as white matter hyperintensities or WMH – along with genetics and other overall health markers that can determine a person’s risk. low or high.

At the age of 64, an MRI of the brain is likely to show WMH between 11 and 21%. At the age of 82, the chances of WMH increase to about 94%. WMH is thought to be caused by changes in the small blood vessels in the brain. They are associated with an increased risk of developing dementia and cognitive impairment. But it is not known exactly how they could contribute.

Gender and racial differences in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately one in nine people aged 65 and over (about 11.3%) has Alzheimer’s disease. Of the estimated 6 million people with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States, nearly two-thirds, or about 3.5 million, are women.

There are also racial differences:

  • Older black Americans are about one and a half to two times more likely to have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease than white Americans.

  • Hispanic Americans are about one and a half times more likely than white Americans to have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of cases in African Americans is expected to quadruple and in Hispanic Americans seven times higher than today’s estimates.

The study will focus on different populations. The researchers recruit 2,250 participants from a variety of backgrounds, aged 65 to 90.

“If you only register a certain group of companies, we can’t generalize to the whole group, which becomes a problem,” said Myriam Fornage, co-researcher and professor of genetics at UTHealth Houston. “Hopefully we can involve a lot of people and gain a broader picture and a better understanding of the disease for everyone.”

Lisa L. Barnes, a professor of neurology at Rush Medical College, and Hector M. González, a professor of neuroscience at UC San Diego, are co-investigators.

One of the participants in the study, Antonia Lopez, had a career in early childhood education before retirement. “My mother had Alzheimer’s.” We knew there was a term called Alzheimer’s. We did not know the difference between that and normal aging. She motivated me. I hope that my participation will enrich knowledge and bring change for the next generation, “said Lopez.

“I am grateful to any participant who takes the time to contribute to dementia research. I have dedicated my career to this and I know we can change something, “said DeCarli.

To learn more about the study, including how to get involved, visit the study’s website or the Diverse VCID website.

Participating centers

  • Alzheimer’s Research Center, University of Southern California

  • Alzheimer’s Research Center at Columbia University

  • Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s Disease and Neurodegenerative Diseases

  • Johns Hopkins Alzheimer’s Research Center

  • Michigan Center for Alzheimer’s Disease

  • New Mexico Exploratory Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center for Memory and Aging at University of New Mexico Health

  • Penn Memory Center

  • Sticht Center for Healthy Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention

  • Alzheimer’s Center for UC Davis – Sacramento

  • Alzheimer’s Center for UC Davis – Walnut Creek

  • Shiley Marcos Alzheimer’s Research Center at UC San Diego

  • Alzheimer’s Center for University of Kentucky

  • Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Research Center


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