Does high blood pressure increase the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease? Although several studies have highlighted hypertension as a potential AD risk factor, getting prominent play in the press, the epidemiologic evidence to date remains surprisingly weak. This is the conclusion of researchers led by Deborah Blacker at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, in a paper published online today in the journal Epidemiology. While their meta-analysis yielded inconclusive data, the authors point out that this may be due to the small number of studies that met inclusion criteria, as well as bias and other problems with the original data. They recommend further research in this area to make the data stronger and more comparable. The results also debut today in AlzRisk, the open online database hosted by AlzForum that curates and analyses non-genetic risk factors for AD. The AlzRisk analysis is very similar but not identical to the Epidemiology paper. Hypertension is the fifth factor to be entered into AlzRisk, and marks a major expansion of the database. AlzRisk's curators, led by Blacker and Jennifer Weuve at Rush University, Chicago, Ilinois, plan to complete additional fators before the end of the year, and expect that scientists, journalists, and others interested in AD will find the database a useful resource.
Hypertension is of interest because it is treatable, many epidemiological studies have linked cardiovascular disease to dementia, and two previous reviews have found an association between high blood pressure and dementia.