HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– A study that could lead to possibly delaying or even preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia is underway at the Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital. Researchers are looking into how common medical conditions impact the brain in middle-aged participants with a family history.
More than six million people are living with dementia in the United States. Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia are among the most common, robbing people of memory as well as skills related to thinking and learning.
The study is looking into how common medical conditions, such as heart disease, could delay or prevent dementia.
People like Ed Bryan with a family history of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, are signing up for it.
“My mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s,” said Bryan. “She was probably in her mid-50’s and passed away when she was 67.”
Right now research shows risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, are the same as those that contribute to dementia.
“We’re looking to get a better understanding of the kinds of risk factors that people are experiencing in middle life that increase their risk of developing dementia in later years,” said Dr. Karen Blank.
She says the information gathered will help determine how doctors should aggressively treat patients. Already there’s evidence that treating heart health is having a direct impact on dementia.
“It seems to be having a positive effect on the rates of dementia,” said Dr. Blank. “It’s driving down the rates of dementia.”
Study participants also undergo testing to determine their strength in cognitive areas such as memory, language, and motor skills.
Diana King is the coordinator of the Midlife Dementia Off-Spring Study.
“In all of the people we are looking to just sort of see where they fall for their age group in their cognitive ability.” said Diana King, Coordinator of the Midlife Dementia Off-Spring Study. “Do people who have some of these high risk factors perform differently on these cognitive tests?”
“My personal belief is that I would like to know, I’d like to be able to plan, I’ve seen and have been exposed to a lot of people, including my mom, where you are in denial and don’t follow through on the things you really should,” said Bryan.
Who participates? People who are between the ages of 45 and 65, have a parent diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related from of dementia, do not drink excessive alcohol or use illicit drugs, and do not have Type I diabetes.
People with Type II diabetes can participate.
For more information contact: Diana King at 860-545-7038 or at Diana.King@hhchealth.org. You can also visit the Alzheimer’s Association website at http://www.alz.org/.