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Approved Research

Influence of cardiovascular risk on brain structure and function

Principal Investigator: Dr Paul Edison
Approved Research ID: 87031
Approval date: December 23rd 2022

Lay summary

Dementia and cognitive impairment are a growing issue worldwide owing to ageing populations, which will cause an increasing economic burden for countries across the globe. As no effective treatments which modify the course of dementia are currently available, it is essential to develop an effective treatment. It has been suggested there will be an importance for any intervention to occur early in the disease development. New drug developments in the context of dementia have focused on treating hallmarks of the disorder, namely the build-up of toxic proteins. These treatments have been largely unsuccessful, demonstrating the influence of additional pathological processes are involved the dementia development which required targeting. Several mechanisms involved in the development of dementia share similar processes to that of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, cardiovascular risk factors are closely linked to the development of cognitive issues and dementia. We aim to investigate the impact of cardiovascular risk on long-term dementia like changes to both brain structure and function. Drugs which used to treat cardiovascular disease show possible effectiveness in treating dementia, as such, we will identify is usage of antidiabetic medication can prevent early changes to the brain prior to the onset of dementia. Together this study will help identify the impact of cardiovascular factors on neurodegeneration in mid-age and provide insight into the promise of targeting cardiovascular risk as an effective strategy. Furthermore, we aim to assess genetic data, using genes linked with higher cardiovascular risk on brain structure. This will enable identification of people who are at risk of cognitive impairment or dementia development which is an important consideration for early intervention.