Chris Hemsworth has the genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s

Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia

Source: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia

Recently, actor and Marvel celebrity Chris Hemsworth discovered that he shares something in common with roughly 2 percent of people worldwide: having two APOE Ɛ4 alleles genethe highest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. People with two APOE Ɛ4 alleles are 12 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

While this is devastating news, thanks to ongoing studies like the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP), it turns out that people with the genetic risk factor or a family history of Alzheimer’s may lower their chance of developing the disease. with a healthy lifestyle.

He WRAP study is a large-scale longitudinal study of more than 1,500 adults aged 50 to 70 years at baseline. Seventy percent of the participants are at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease because they carry the APOE Ɛ4 gene variant or have at least one parent with a confirmed diagnosis of the disease.

WRAP researchers have extensively investigated whether healthy lifestyle activities that have been shown to help slow cognitive decline among the general population of older adults would also be beneficial to its population of participants. What makes the WRAP findings particularly important is that scientists have examined whether a healthy lifestyle can delay the onset of the neuropathology that leads to Alzheimer’s disease.

The neuropathology of Alzheimer’s

Although most people associate Alzheimer’s disease with memory loss and cognitive impairment, its bases derive from various neuropathologies (abnormalities in the brain that can lead to disease). These abnormalities include the accumulation of proteins called amyloid beta and tau, glucose metabolism dysfunction, neuroinflammation, and white matter hyperintensities.

The hallmark signature of Alzheimer’s disease is the development of plaques and tangles that cause healthy brain tissue, including gray matter, to shrink. Gray matter is crucial for the brain to process information. Scientists have determined that the plaques and tangles are made up of amyloid beta and tau.

WRAP Key Finding: Exercise Offers Double Brain Protection

It turns out that regular cardiovascular exercise is one of the best things people at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease can do. Regular cardiovascular exercise provides two levels of protection for the brain. On the one hand, it strengthens neural connections and cerebral blood flow, which is great for the brain. On the other hand, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, sleep badY chronic stressall of which are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.

WRAP researchers have investigated the relationship between exercise and the presence of neuropathology, including beta amyloid Y white matter hyperintensitiesas well as the amount of Gray matter in the brain. The researchers consistently found that among participants with poor cardiovascular fitness, age was associated with higher levels of neuropathology and less gray matter. However, not only did the aerobically fit participants perform better on cognitive tests and have greater amounts of gray matter than the more sedentary participants, but the older aerobically fit participants had similar levels of neuropathology as the younger participants. in an aerobic way. This is a remarkable finding: Among people who are at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s, regular cardiovascular exercise may help keep some of the neuropathology at bay.

You may be wondering how much cardio you need to do to get these brain benefits. The current CDC recommendation is 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous exercise. Hemsworth could easily exceed this amount by exercising at least an hour a day, according to media speculation.

Exercise can offset the negative brain effects of lack of sleep

Chronic lack of sleep is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease; unfortunately, people with APOE Ɛ4 are susceptible to lack of sleep. The WRAP scientists sought to determine whether exercise could improve impact of poor sleep of the amount of tau in the brain. Overall, lack of sleep was associated with higher amounts of tau in the brain, but cardiovascular fitness level enhanced this effect. Once again, the scientists found that only among sedentary WRAP participants was sleep deprivation linked to higher levels of tau in the brain.

If you can’t exercise

Not everyone is capable of sustained cardiovascular exercise. For people with arthritis, chronic pain, or other health conditions, cardiovascular exercise simply may not be feasible. If you fall into this category, you may still benefit from following other aspects of a healthy lifestyle.

Longitudinal findings from WRAP demonstrate that participants with APOE Ɛ4 who report leading a healthy life style they have better cognitive functioning than APOE Ɛ4 carriers who report following a less healthy lifestyle. The scientists created a global measure of lifestyle factors in which a healthy lifestyle consisted of a healthy lifestyle dietphysical activity, not of smokingmoderate alcohol intake, cognitive stimulation and the absence of certain diseases (obesity, diabetes, depressionhigh cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and kidney disease).

If you or a loved one shows signs of Alzheimer’s disease

Check out the Alzheimer’s Association Know the 10 Signs. For each early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, describe what is considered typical aging and when it is cause for concern.

If you’re still worried after reading the 10 signs, schedule a memory evaluation appointment at a center like the Stanford VA Alzheimer’s Center, where they do comprehensive memory evaluations for free. Are Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnostic Centers they are located throughout the country and are usually affiliated with a university.


Discovering that you have the genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is a life-changing event. The good news is that this knowledge allows you to take proactive steps to reduce the likelihood of developing it. Exercise is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but it can help delay the onset by preventing the onset of neuropathology, even in people at higher risk, like Hemsworth. In other words, you don’t need to have the resources of a movie star and access to specialists to reduce your dementia risk; most of us only need one pair of sneakers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *