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Trial provides Alzheimer’s hope

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The result of an Alzheimer’s trial recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association is giving hope to families impacted by a loved one with cognitive impairment.

Toni Sexton, the Vice President of Programs and Services for the Alzheimer’s Association, and Dr. Carol Podgorski from UR Medicine and a Med-Sci Committee member for the Alzheimer’s Association discussed the SPRINT MIND Trial and it’s conclusions Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“What we learned is that aggressive treatment toward reducing blood pressure might be able to make a difference in reducing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Podgorski. “We know recently that the guidelines for blood pressure have changed and physicians have always tried to get people to the systolic number of 140, and now there’s thinking that 120 makes a difference. What this trial has shown is that intensive treatment to reduce blood pressure to 120 can make such a difference it can reduce the risk of cognitive impairment by 19 percent.”

Sexton explained how the success of the SPRINT MIND Trial forced it to end early. “The Alzheimer’s Association is the largest non-profit funder of dementia research, second to the U.S. government. The study that Carol is referencing was ended because the evidence was so compelling that the primary investigators had to tell the participants of this study what they had found. There’s now a continuation of that study. While we know that there’s an impact on mild cognitive impairment, there needs to be a continuation to determine whether or not it will in fact impact dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”

To that end, the Alzheimer’s Association is providing $800,000 to continue the research. “We’re talking about the lives of more than five million Americans, and locally more than 400,000 New Yorkers, so the first time that research has lent itself to hope is the reaction that we’re seeing,” said Sexton. “The inspiration that this has given families who are impacted by the disease, while if I’m living with the disease this may not impact my trajectory, for my children and my grandchildren there is now hope.”

For older people especially, the findings are significant. “With mild cognitive impairment about 15 to 20 percent of people over the age of 65 have that,” noted Dr. Podgorski. “In greater numbers, it’s very age dependent so the prevalence of Alzheimer’s goes up with age, so at 70 it’s about 10 to 20 percent. By the time you get to 85 it’s over 40 percent, so age is the greatest risk factor. So we’re talking about a lot of people, maybe 20,000 to 25,000 people in our region.”

To see our entire interview, click the link below.

To see the SPRINT MIND article in JAMA, click this link:

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