Cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease: common links


Meir J. Stampfer MD, DrPH, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
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Growing evidence supports a strong and likely causal association between cardiovascular disease (CVD), and its risk factors, with incidence of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. Individuals with subclinical CVD are at higher risk for dementia and Alzheimer's. Several cardiovascular risk factors are also risk factors for dementia, including hypertension, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol and especially diabetes. Moderate alcohol appears to be protective for both CVD and dementia. In contrast, inflammatory markers predict cardiovascular risk, but not dementia, despite biological plausibility for such a link. The substantial overlap in risk factors points to new avenues for research and prevention.