High rate of diabetes, high blood pressure

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 4:00 PM ET, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS – The high rate of diabetes and high blood pressure combined among Puerto Ricans may be linked to structural changes in the brain, according to a study published in the March 30, 2022 online issue of Neurology®the medical journal of American Academy of Neurology.

“This high prevalence of people with both diabetes and high blood pressure may be a key factor contributing to health disparities in cognitive impairment among Puerto Ricans compared to whites in the same age range,” the report said. study author Bang-Bon Koo, PhD. , from Boston University in Massachusetts. “This research is important because although Hispanics make up more than 18% of the U.S. population, they are underrepresented in large disease prevalence studies and have generally been treated as a whole group instead of looking at larger groups. children from different backgrounds such as Puerto Ricans, Cubans or Mexican Americans.

The study involved 192 Boston-area Puerto Ricans who were part of a larger study and were followed for more than 10 years. The participants had brain scans and took tests of their thinking skills.

They were divided into four groups based on whether or not they had type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. A total of 54 people had no condition; 67 had high blood pressure but did not have diabetes; and 61 people had both conditions. Ten people had diabetes but no high blood pressure. This group was not included in the analysis due to small numbers.

Participants were also compared to participants in two other large studies that included both Hispanics and whites.

The study found that about five times as many Puerto Ricans had diabetes than whites, 32% versus 7%. Twice as many Puerto Ricans had high blood pressure as whites, 67% versus 39%.

Brain scans showed that Puerto Ricans with both conditions had the smallest volume in the hippocampal region of the brain, which plays a role in learning and memory and is affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

People with both conditions also showed clear patterns of brain white matter deterioration compared to people with no condition, while people with high blood pressure had only less deterioration. People with both conditions also had a greater difference between their actual age and their estimated ‘brain age’, meaning aging affected their brains to a greater degree than people who didn’t have both conditions. .

The results were adjusted for other factors such as age, gender and level of education.

“The decline in brain health and cognitive ability in people in the Puerto Rican study who had both diabetes and high blood pressure was comparable to that in people in another study who had mild cognitive impairment and progressed to Alzheimer’s disease within five years,” Koo said. “Our results suggest that the high rate of diabetes and high blood pressure among Puerto Ricans may contribute to the higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease among this group.”

A limitation of the study was that people with type 2 diabetes who did not have high blood pressure were not included due to their small numbers.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.

Learn more about brain health at BrainandLife.org, site of the American Academy of Neurology’s free magazine for patients and caregivers, focusing on the intersection of neurological disease and brain health. To follow Brain & Life® to Facebook, Twitter and instagram.

When posting on social media about this research, we encourage you to use the hashtags #Neurology and #AANscience.

The American Academy of Neurology is the world’s largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with more than 38,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurological care. A neurologist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of brain and nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson’s and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit AAN.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, instagram, LinkedIn and Youtube.


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