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Targeting the heart to optimise healthy brain ageing
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Targeting the heart to optimise healthy brain ageing

Dr Camilla Hoyos, Institution: University of Sydney

2020 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2021-2025


Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form, occur commonly and are on the rise due to our ageing population. Given there is no cure for dementia, we need to find new ways to prevent it. My research focuses on understanding how improving aspects of cardiovascular disease and sleep may help slow changes in memory and thinking which are common in dementia. Cardiovascular disease is the earliest and strongest risk factor for dementia, contributing to up 50% of the risk. Sleep apnea, a very common disorder where people snore and stop breathing for short periods many times during the night, has also been linked to dementia. Cardiovascular disease and sleep apnea are also associated with each other.

Furthermore, it is proposed that these conditions could cause dementia through similar pathways. These include causing oxidative stress, inflammation and promoting the build-up of key toxins associated with Alzheimer’s disease within the brain. My research will significantly develop our understanding of the relationship between cardiovascular health and healthy brain ageing and will provide new insights into possible early treatment options. I am working to understand whether treating the increased inflammation associated with a recent cardiovascular event can affect cognition in middle aged adults.

I am also exploring whether any improvements in memory and thinking skills after treating sleep apnea are related to heart health in those >50 year who are at risk of developing dementia. Targeting earlier will allow for the greatest opportunity to change the trajectory of brain ageing of individuals with cardiovascular disease and sleep apnea. Discovering new treatments for middle-age and older adults with cardiovascular disease could slow their development of memory and thinking problems and would be a major step towards preventing dementia.

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