June 13, 2007
Most Die With Multiple Causes Of Brain Damage

Most old brains suffer from lots of diseases.

Few older people die with brains untouched by a pathological process, however, an individualís likelihood of having clinical signs of dementia increases with the number of different disease processes present in the brain, according to a new study. The research was funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and conducted at the Rush Alzheimerís Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Julie Schneider, M.D., and colleagues report the findings in the journal Neurology online today.

Among their findings is the observation that the combination of Alzheimerís disease and cerebral infarcts (strokes) is the most common mix of pathologies in the brains of people with dementia.

A diet to improve your blood lipid profile will help delay the day when strokes and other aging processes start you down the road to serious brain damage.

The implication of these findings is that public health efforts to prevent and treat vascular disease could potentially reduce the occurrence of dementia, the researchers say in the paper.

What would reduce the incidence of dementia: All the dietary, lifestyle, and drug factors that reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. In this context I hear Ray Davies singing "I'm an ape man" since the Ape Diet of U Toronto researcher David Jenkins looks like a good bet for how to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases.

The bad news is that most people have multiple serious brain diseases by the time they die.

The current study compared clinical and autopsy data on the first 141 participants who have died.

Annual physical and psychological exams showed that, while they were alive, 50 of the 141 had dementia. Upon death, a neuropathologist, who was unaware of the results of the clinical evaluation, analyzed each personís brain. The autopsies showed that about 85 percent of the individuals had evidence of at least one chronic disease process, such as Alzheimerís disease, strokes, Parkinsonís disease, hemorrhages, tumors, traumatic brain injury or others.

Comparison of the clinical and autopsy results showed that only 30 percent of people with signs of dementia had Alzheimerís disease alone. By contrast, 42 percent of the people with dementia had Alzheimerís disease with infarcts and 16 percent had Alzheimerís disease with Parkinsonís disease (including two people with all three conditions). Infarcts alone caused another 12 percent of the cases. Also, 80 of the 141 volunteers who died had sufficient Alzheimerís disease pathology in their brains to fulfill accepted neuropathologic criteria for Alzheimerís disease, although in life only 47 were clinically diagnosed with probable or possible Alzheimerís disease.

Growing oldn't isn't just about getting gray and wrinkled skin. Growing old is not graceful or dignified. Your brain becomes progressively more damaged.

Stem cell therapies, gene therapies, and other future therapies will eventually slow brain aging and in the longer run rejuvenation therapies together will reverse brain aging. We should demand greater efforts to develop all those brain rejuvenation therapies because currently we are all mentally decaying. Every day that goes by our brains get older and more dysfunctional.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 June 13 11:38 PM  Brain Aging


Comments
John Faughnan said at June 30, 2007 8:37 PM:

I'm beginning to think you're my age (47, almost 48). Slip sliding away ...

Your younger reader's brains are not doing quite so badly. Male brains, at least in some respects,don't start to go downhill until after age 25 or so.

None of this is new btw, we've known for years that most dementia involves vascular disease and the alzheimer's process and that each may accelerate the other.

As to reversing brain aging? Maybe, but I suspect it will be too late for us. Maybe those now aged 15 or younger.

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