The work undertaken by a Canadian research team suggests that there actually is a link between Alzheimer’s disease and heart problems. Cardiovascular diseases typically cause a reduction in the blood flow and oxygen to the brain. This lack of oxygen is not inconsequential.
These researchers in fact discovered that a lack of oxygen in the brain activates a gene called BACE1. Activation of this gene seems to trigger a series of reactions that bring about an increase in the production of the beta amyloid protein, which is believed to be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. These studies were conducted with mice and their results are very encouraging.
Scientists have long observed that people who suffer from certain diseases that restrict the supply of oxygen in the body, such as strokes or lung disorders, are at greater risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s, as are people living at high altitudes where the air is thinner. The Canadian research explains these anecdotal observations.
Hence, the results lead us to hope that we may one day be able to treat this dreadful disease by increasing the level of oxygen in the brain, or prevent it from developing in people who have suffered from head traumas or strokes.
The researchers also reinforce the hypothesis that surfaced in the last few years: methods that help improve heart health also help improve brain health. What is good for the heart is also good for the brain! Regular physical activity and healthy eating habits are not only good all-around, they may be the strongest weapons in the fight against dementia.