Blood vessels changes have a connection with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent research published in the scientific journal The Lancet Neurology and funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The study -called Relation of cerebral vessel disease to Alzheimer’s disease dementia and cognitive function in elderly people- was cross-sectional and discovered that understanding the mechanisms of blood vessel disease can have an effect on the identification and treatment of dementia. It was known that stroke is a risk factor for dementia, but this is the first research that studied the link between the severeness of vessel disease and the possibility to have Alzheimer’s disease.

 The researchers stated that there was few data on the pathology of cerebrovascular disease and cognition available. Image Credit: NjoyVision
The researchers stated that there was few data on the pathology of cerebrovascular disease and cognition available. Image Credit: NjoyVision

The Methods in the Investigation

A cross-sectional study works as an observational study using data collected from a particular population, in this case, men, and women who were 65 years old or older who had clinical assessments every year and agreed to brain autopsy at the time of death.

The research also used data from two previous studies on aging. Among the data used, there were patients without dementia or Alzheimer’s with complete neuropathological data. The clinical data was dated from 1994 to 2015 and with that information, the researchers created summary measures of global cognition and cognitive domains.

A regression analysis was used, adjusting it for demographics, gross and microscopic infarcts, allowing researchers to examined the association of vessel disease severity with the odds of probable Alzheimer’s disease dementia and cognitive function.

The median age at death of the patients studied was around the 88 years and 42 percent of the participants suffered Alzheimer’s disease dementia. Atherosclerosis was present in the 39 percent of the group and arteriolosclerosis in 35 percent.  More than 1,000 individuals were included in the research data.

What did they found? That vessel disease is linked with cognitive function

The research suggests that the level of severity in the blood vessel diseases increased the probability to suffer dementia. Atherosclerosis and arteriolosclerosis were associated with higher risk in global cognition function, including affection related to memory, semantic memory, working memory and perceptual speed.

Cerebral vessel disease may be a major risk factor in most cognitive domains and a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease dementia. These findings allow healthcare providers and specialists consider a more complex panorama of risk and exposure to cognitive disease in elderly people, as well as to investigate and provide early treatments to vulnerable patients.

Source: The Lancet