Nav: Home

Memory loss and other cognitive decline linked to blood vessel disease in the brain

June 05, 2017

MAYWOOD, IL - Memory loss, language problems and other symptoms of cognitive decline are strongly associated with diseases of the small blood vessels in the brain, a study has found.

The study by senior author José Biller, MD, first author Victor Del Brutto, MD, and colleagues is published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Dr. Biller is chair of Loyola Medicine's department of neurology. Dr. Del Brutto is a University of Chicago resident who did a neurology rotation at Loyola.

The study included 331 volunteers age 60 and older who live in Atahualpa, a small rural village in coastal Ecuador. The subjects were given cognitive tests and brain MRIs. The MRIs were examined for four main components of small vessel disease (SVD). These four components, which include evidence of microbleeds and minor strokes, then were added to create a total SVD score. The score ranges from zero points (no SVD) to 4 points (severe SVD).

The study found that that 61 percent of the subjects had zero points on the total SVD score, 20 percent had 1 point, 12 percent had 2 points, 5 percent had 3 points and 2 percent had 4 points. The higher the SVD score, the greater the cognitive decline. Researchers also found that each individual component of SVD predicted cognitive decline as well as the total SVD score did.

Cognitive decline was measured by a Spanish version of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test. Subjects were asked to do basic cognitive tasks such as counting backwards from 100 by sevens, repeating back a list of words, identifying drawings of animals and naming in one minute as many words as possible that begin with N.

The finding that 39 percent of the older adults have at least one component of SVD indicates the condition is common in the region. This prevalence makes Atahualpa a suitable population for studying the effect of SVD on cognitive performance, researchers wrote.

SVD in the brain is a recognized cause of stroke and cognitive decline worldwide. The condition is an especial concern in Latin American countries, where it has been shown to be one of the most common mechanisms that cause strokes.

The study is part of the groundbreaking Atahualpa Project, a population-based study designed to reduce the increasing burden of strokes and other neurological disorders in rural Ecuador and similar communities in Latin America. Many Atahualpa residents have enrolled in studies of risk factors for common diseases, especially neurological and cardiovascular diseases. More than 95 percent of Atahualpa's population belongs to the native/Mestizo ethnic group, and the villagers have similar diets and lifestyles, making them suitable subjects for population studies.
-end-
One of the SVD study's authors, Mauricio Zambrano, is coordinator of the Atahualpa Project. Two other co-authors, Victor Del Brutto, MD, and Loyola vascular neurology fellow Jorge Ortiz, MD, are from Ecuador. The other co-authors are Atahualpa Project founder Oscar Del Brutto, MD, of the Universidad Espiritu Santo in Guayaquil, Ecuador and Robertino Mera, PhD, of the University of Vanderbilt Medical Center.

The study is titled, "Total cerebral small vessel disease score and cognitive performance in community-dwelling older adults. Results from the Atahualpa Project."

Loyola University Health System

Related Cognitive Decline Articles:

High blood pressure treatment may slow cognitive decline
Among middle-aged and older adults, high blood pressure accelerated cognitive decline and treatment slowed the regression.
Depression symptoms in Alzheimer's could be signs for cognitive decline
Depression symptoms in cognitively healthy older individuals together with brain amyloid, a biological marker of Alzheimer's could trigger changes in memory and thinking over time.
Model predicts cognitive decline due to Alzheimer's, up to two years out
An artificial intelligence model developed at MIT predicts cognitive decline of patients at risk for Alzheimer's disease by predicting their cognition test scores up to 2 years in the future.
Cognitive decline may accelerate after heart attack, angina
Adults with incident coronary heart disease (CHD) are at higher risk for faster cognitive decline in the long-term, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Healthy blood vessels may delay cognitive decline
High blood pressure may affect conditions such as Alzheimer's disease by interfering with the brain's waste management system, according to new research in rats published in JNeurosci.
More Cognitive Decline News and Cognitive Decline Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...