Physical Activity May be a Modifiable Risk Factor for Cognitive Decline in African Americans and Caucasians at High Risk for Developing Alzheimer's Disease Open Access

Tharwani, Sonum (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/gf06g265v?locale=en
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Abstract

Significance: More than 5 million people in the U.S. are currently living with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and that will triple by 2050. Individuals with a parental history of AD are more likely to become afflicted with AD than those without. African Americans (AAs) are 64 percent more likely to develop AD than Caucasians (CCs), which increases the public health burden of AD in the US as the non-Caucasian population becomes the majority. In an effort to prevent AD, we must identify high risk individuals and implement economically feasible and modifiable treatment regimens. Physical activity levels (PA) during midlife (ages 40-65) may have the potential to reduce the risk of developing AD.

 

Objective: To investigate the potential relationship between PA, cognition, and AD brain biomarkers (Aβ and tau) in middle-aged individuals at high risk for AD, due to age, race, and a parental history of AD.

 

Design: Observational study.

 

Participants: Study included 61 cognitively normal subjects (M=59.6 +/- 6.9 years), comprised of 27 African Americans (M= 60.3 +/- 8.1 years) and 34 Caucasians (M=59.06 +/- 6.0 years), with a parental history of AD.

 

Measures: CHAMPS Activities Questionnaire for Older Adults to measure PA, comprehensive cognitive testing battery, and AD brain biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid (Aβ and tau).

 

Results: Cognitive test performance differed between AAs and CCs, such that CCs outperformed AAs on 9 out of 10 assessments. Increased PA frequency were related to better scores on tests of executive function and working memory in AAs. Higher PA caloric expenditure associated with better executive function in CCs.

 

Conclusion: Physical activity is a safe, affordable, and modifiable risk factor. Current research shows that even late life PA can result in favorable health outcomes. It is possible that the increased prevalence of AD in AAs can be reduced through an active lifestyle. Further research should delineate the modality, intensity, and duration of PA needed to maximize benefits on cognition and reduce AD risk in AAs and CCs. Alternate mechanisms by which PA may directly benefit brain health, such as inflammation and improved cerebral blood flow, should also be considered.

Table of Contents

Significance and Introduction……………………………………………………1

 

 

Methods…………………………………………………….4

 

 

Results……………………………………………….….….7

 

 

Discussion………………………………………………….9

 

 

Tables

 

Table 1: Participant Demographics………………….……16

 

Table 2: Cardiovascular Data……………….….................17

 

Table 3: Cognitive Data ……………………........….……18

 

Table 4: Pearson’s r correlations between cognition and physical activity........19

 

Table 5: Self-reported physical activity values from CHAMPS Questionnaire ……….......20

 

Table 6: Pearson’s r correlations between AD Brain Biomarkers and physical activity…...21

 

 

References……………………………………………….22

 

 

 

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