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Approved Research

Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Drug Treatments, and their Effects on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias in the United Kingdom Biobank

Principal Investigator: Mr Neal Jawadekar
Approved Research ID: 67926
Approval date: April 26th 2021

Lay summary

The primary goals of this project are to better understand the effect that cardiovascular risk factors and corresponding treatments have on risk of Alzheimer's Disease and dementia in the UK Biobank cohort. The literature to date has been inconsistent. While randomized control trials have shown little to no difference in the prevalence of cognitive impairment between medication-users (e.g. for statins and antihypertensives) and placebo, the relatively short follow-up times (4 to 5 years) are limitations of these RCTs in terms of their ability to detect the long-term effects of these drugs on dementia risk. We would also like to examine the causal association between genetically predicted cardiovascular risk factors (e.g. LDL cholesterol and blood pressure) and dementia, as well as how trends in drug prescribing practices have changed over time, in relation to established guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), when applicable.

Using UK Biobank data, we will study the effect of medication use and cardiovascular risk factors on dementia risk by using two quasi-experimental methods. First, we will utilize regression discontinuity design to assess the unbiased average treatment effect between various treatments and dementia. Second, we will use Mendelian Randomization, a technique which can harness random gene variation to examine the causal effect between genetically predicted CVD risk factors and dementia. We expect our project will take up to 36 months to complete. The potential implications of this project are significant, given that statins and antihypertensives are two of the most widely-prescribed drug classes in the world. In addition, dementia is a debilitating disorder which negatively impacts individuals and their families all over the world.