People with normal cognitive functions may be vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease if they exhibit atrophy of their temporal lobe or damage to blood vessels in the brain, says a study of older adults.
The study, published in the Journal of Neuroimaging, also suggests that people exhibiting both conditions are seven-times more likely to develop the disease than their peers.
"Alzheimer's disease, a highly debilitating and ultimately fatal neurological disease, is already associated with other risk factors such as poor cognitive scores, education or health conditions," says study author, Dr. Caterina Rosano.
"This study, because it focused on healthy, cognitively normal adults, shows that there other risk factors we need to consider," she adds.
During the study, the researchers examined MRI images of participants' brains so as to see whether they showed poor brain circulation, damaged blood vessels, or atrophy of the medical temporal lobe.
It was found that subjects that showed any one or a combination of these symptoms were more likely to develop Alzheimer's in the following years.
"Similarly to heart disease, brain blood vessel damage is more likely to occur in patients with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes," says Dr. Rosano.
"Since we know that prevention of these conditions can lower risk of heart attack and stroke, it is likely that it would also lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's," she adds.