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:

Maintaining heart health may protect against cognitive decline
People with a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease have increased cognitive decline, including an increase in typical markers of Alzheimer's disease, suggesting that monitoring and controlling for heart disease may be key to maintaining and improving cognitive health later in life, according to research published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Not finding new goals post-retirement associated with greater cognitive decline
Certain middle-aged and older adults, especially women who tend to disengage from difficult tasks and goals after they retire, may be at greater risk of cognitive decline as they age, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
Hypertension in young adulthood associated with cognitive decline in middle age
Research from Tel Aviv University indicates that high blood pressure in young adulthood is associated with cognitive decline and gait impairment in middle age.
Hearing aids may delay cognitive decline, research finds
Wearing hearing aids may delay cognitive decline in older adults and improve brain function, according to promising new research.
Widowhood accelerates cognitive decline among those at risk for Alzheimer's disease
A new study finds that widowhood can have another profound effect: It may accelerate cognitive decline.
Walnuts may slow cognitive decline in at-risk elderly
Eating walnuts may help slow cognitive decline in at-risk groups of the elderly population, according to a study conducted by researchers in California and Spain.
Research shows that early retirement can accelerate cognitive decline
Early retirement can accelerate cognitive decline among the elderly, according to research conducted by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.
Looking at the way we walk can help predict cognitive decline
The way people walk is an indicator of how much their brains, as well as their bodies, are aging.
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.
More Cognitive Decline News and Cognitive Decline Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

TED Radio Wow-er
School's out, but many kids–and their parents–are still stuck at home. Let's keep learning together. Special guest Guy Raz joins Manoush for an hour packed with TED science lessons for everyone.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.