Vascular Brain Injury May Play Important Role In Dementia

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The long-assumed connection between traumatic brain injury and dementia may be falling under question after recent studies suggested there was in fact no link, but new research is saying that brain damage caused by high blood pressure and strokes may be connected with dementia and cognitive brain problems.

The study, from UC David Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and published in JAMA Neurology, states that this type of vascular brain damage seems to be a potentially greater risk for cognitive impairment than the amyloid brain plaques which have been traditionally associated with Alzheimer’s disease and similar forms of dementia.

According to Southern California Public Radio, previous animal studies indicated that strokes cause beta amyloid deposition in the brain, but Bruce Reed, associate director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, says that isn’t seen in human research.

“If that were the case, people who had more vascular brain injury should have higher levels of beta amyloid. We found no evidence to support that,” Reed explains in a press release about the study.

The next step for the researchers was to determine whether vascular brain injury or amyloid plaques had a worse impact on the cognitive function of aging, but healthy, adults. Reed’s findings go against beliefs the medical community has held for years.

“It was really very clear that the amyloid had very little effect, but the vascular brain injury had distinctly negative effects,” Reed said.

By differentiating the causes of cognitive impairment by vascular brain injury or amyloid brain plaques, health care providers can more accurately assess the patient’s health and create a more effective care strategy.

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