03/19/2013 11:21 pm ET

Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure May Raise Alzheimer's Risk

Uncontrolled high blood pressure could be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.

Researchers found that people who have uncontrolled hypertension and a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's (a gene called APOE-e4) had higher levels of amyloid plaque -- known to play some kind of role in Alzheimer's disease -- than people with the APOE-e4 gene and controlled hypertension.

"Identifying the most significant risk factors for amyloid deposition in seemingly healthy adults will be critical in advancing medical efforts aimed at prevention and early detection," study researcher Dr. Karen Rodrigue, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Dallas Center for Vital Longevity, said in a statement.

Uncontrolled blood pressure is not uncommon in the U.S., as a study published last year by government researchers shows that more than half of people with hypertension don't have the condition under control, TIME reported.

The new findings, which are published in the journal JAMA Neurology, are based on 147 people between ages 30 and 89 who underwent brain imaging (MRI and PET) to detect amyloid levels in their brains, as well as cognitive testing and blood pressure testing.

Researchers identified which of the study participants had high blood pressure, and then further identified which of those with hypertension had their condition under control with medications. Researchers also pinpointed which study participants had the APOE-e4 gene (which is known to be linked with Alzheimer's disease and is a gene carried by around one in five people).

The new findings come on the heels of a report released by the Alzheimer's Association, showing that one in three seniors who dies has dementia or Alzheimer's disease at the time of death, the Associated Press reported.



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