Vascular disease underlies cognitive decline in healthy aging

December, 2010
  • New findings add to evidence that the key to not becoming cognitively impaired in old age is vascular health.

More evidence that vascular disease plays a crucial role in age-related cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s comes from data from participants in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.

The study involved more than 800 older adults (55-90), including around 200 cognitively normal individuals, around 400 people with mild cognitive impairment, and 200 people with Alzheimer's disease. The first two groups were followed for 3 years, and the Alzheimer’s patients for two. The study found that the extent of white matter hyperintensities (areas of damaged brain tissue typically caused by cardiovascular disease) was an important predictor of cognitive decline.

Participants whose white matter hyperintensities were significantly above average at the beginning of the study lost more points each year in cognitive testing than those whose white matter hyperintensities were average at baseline. Those with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease at baseline had additional declines on their cognitive testing each year, meaning that the presence of white matter hyperintensities and MCI or Alzheimer's disease together added up to even faster and steeper cognitive decline.

The crucial point is that this was happening in the absence of major cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, indicating that it’s not enough to just reduce your cardiovascular risk factors to a moderate level — every little bit of vascular damage counts.

Reference: 

Related News

A study involving over 180,000 older veterans (average age 68.8 at study start), of whom 29% had PTSD, has revealed that those with PTSD had a significantly greater risk of developing dementia.

Following on from previous research with mice that demonstrated that a diet rich in

A study involving over 1100 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease at 50 French clinics has revealed that receiving a comprehensive care plan involving regular 6-monthly assessments (with standardised guidelines for the management of problems) produced no benefits compared to receivi

A small study suggests that the apathy shown by many Alzheimer's patients may not simply be due to memory or language problems, but to a decreased ability to experience emotions.

Confirming previous research, a study involving 270 Alzheimer’s patients has found that larger head size was associated with better performance on memory and thinking tests, even when there was an equivalent degree of brain damage.

Anticholinergics are widely used for a variety of common medical conditions including insomnia, allergies, or incontinence, and many are sold over the counter.

While brain training programs can certainly improve your ability to do the task you’re practicing, there has been little evidence that this transfers to other tasks.

A review of the many recent studies into the effects of music training on the nervous system strongly suggests that the neural connections made during musical training also prime the brain for other aspects of human communication, including learning.

A rat study demonstrates how specialized brain training can reverse many aspects of normal age-related cognitive decline in targeted areas. The month-long study involved daily hour-long sessions of intense auditory training targeted at the primary auditory cortex.

Another study has come out showing that older adults with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have cognitive problems. The six-year study followed 858 adults who were age 65 or older at the beginning of the study.

Pages

Subscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest health newsSubscribe to Latest news