In a new study, researchers found that healthy blood vessels may be the answer to Alzheimer’s disease prevention.
They suggest that if people are worried about Alzheimer’s disease, the best prevention could be maintaining heart health through exercise and diet and avoiding diabetes and high blood pressure.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Southern California.
Alzheimer’s is one of the greatest health challenges of the century, affecting an estimated 5.4 million people in the U.S.
In the new study, the team found that damaged blood vessels in the brain, rather than plaques and tangles of abnormal proteins, may trigger Alzheimer’s decades before memory problems emerge.
They found that independent of tau and independent of amyloid, the blood vessels leaking when people have cognitive impairment on a mild level.
This suggests that it could be a totally separate process or a very early process in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Using brain imaging, the team also found that in older people the blood-brain barrier breaks down.
In healthy brains, the cells that form the walls of capillaries fit tightly together to form a barrier that keeps stray cells, pathogens, metals, and other unhealthy substances from reaching brain tissue. This is called the blood-brain barrier.
When people have cognitive decline, however, the barrier breaks down. Greater leakage is linked to increased cognitive decline.
Researchers suggest that keeping blood vessels healthy is very important for Alzheimer’s prevention. One theory is that diabetes treatment may keep the brain’s blood vessels healthy, staving off dementia.
In addition, mentally stimulating activities may help preserve cognitive functions and protect against dementia.
One- author of the study is Berislav Zlokovic, director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
The study was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
Copyright © 2019 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.