Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Signs of aging may be linked to undetected blocked brain blood vessels

Date:
September 1, 2011
Source:
American Heart Association
Summary:
Tiny blocked brain vessels may be the cause of many common signs associated with older age, according to new research. Brain autopsies showed more lesions in those with the most pronounced difficulty walking. Thirty percent of small brain lesions could only be seen under a microscope after study participants died. The lesions couldn't be detected by current scans.

Many common signs of aging, such as shaking hands, stooped posture and walking slower, may be due to tiny blocked vessels in the brain that can't be detected by current technology.

Related Articles


In a study reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers examined brain autopsies of older people and found:

  • Microscopic lesions or infarcts -- too small to be detected using brain imaging -- were in 30 percent of the brains of people who had no diagnosed brain disease or stroke.
  • Those who had the most trouble walking had multiple brain lesions.
  • Two-thirds of the people had at least one blood vessel abnormality, suggesting a possible link between the blocked vessels and the familiar signs of aging.

"This is very surprising," said Aron S. Buchman, M.D., lead author of the study and associate professor of neurological sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. "There is a very big public health consequence because we're not capturing this 30 percent who have undiagnosed small vessel disease that is not picked up by current technology. How would you even get them on your radar? We need additional tools in our toolkit."

In 1994, the researchers began conducting annual exams of 1,100 older nuns and priests for signs of aging. The participants also donated their brains for examination after death. This study provides results on the first 418 brain autopsies (61 percent women, average 88 years old at death).

Although Parkinson's disease occurs in only 5 percent of older people, at least half of people 85 and older have mild symptoms associated with the disease.

Before the study, researchers believed that something more common, such as microscopic blocked vessels, might be causing the physical decline. The study's autopsies found the small lesions could only be seen under a microscope after participants died.

The lesions couldn't be detected by current scans.

During the annual exams of the nuns and priests, researchers used the motor skills portion of a Parkinson's disease survey to assess their physical abilities. Researchers observed and rated the participants':

  • Balance
  • Ability to maintain posture
  • Walking speed
  • Ability to get in and out of chairs
  • Ability to make turns when walking
  • Sense of dizziness

"Often the mild motor symptoms are considered an expected part of aging," said Buchman, who is also a member of the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center. "We shouldn't accept this as normal aging. We should try to fix it and understand it.

If there is an underlying cause, we can intervene and perhaps lessen the impact."

Co-authors are Sue E. Leurgans, Ph.D.; Sukriti Nag, M.D., Ph.D.; David A. Bennett, M.D. and Julie A. Schneider, M.D., M.S. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The National Institutes of Health and the Illinois Department of Public Health funded the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Heart Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aron S. Buchman, Sue E. Leurgans, Sukriti Nag, David A. Bennett, Julie A. Schneider. Cerebrovascular Disease Pathology and Parkinsonian Signs in Old Age. Stroke, 2011; DOI: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.623462

Cite This Page:

American Heart Association. "Signs of aging may be linked to undetected blocked brain blood vessels." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110901163918.htm>.
American Heart Association. (2011, September 1). Signs of aging may be linked to undetected blocked brain blood vessels. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110901163918.htm
American Heart Association. "Signs of aging may be linked to undetected blocked brain blood vessels." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110901163918.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) The family of a Dallas nurse infected with Ebola in the US says doctors can no longer detect the virus in her. Despite the mounting death toll in West Africa, there are survivors there too. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins