Blocked Brain Blood Vessels May be the Cause of Signs of Aging

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In a study published in the Journal of American Heart Association, it was found out that a number of the common signs of aging like hand tremors, bradykinesia (slow movement), and stooped posture may be due to clogged blood vessels in the brain that cannot be detected by current medical technologies. The said study conducted by researchers from Rush University Medical Center made use of brain autopsies of older people.

They found out that microscopic lesions or infarcts are present in thirty percent of the people who were not diagnosed with stroke or any brain disease. These lesions are very small and less likely to be detected by current high end imaging techniques. Multiple brain lesions have been found among people who had difficulty of walking while two thirds of the people had at least one blood vessel abnormality which suggests a possible link between the signs of aging and the presence of these blocked blood vessels.

Dr. Aron Buchman, lead author of the said study admits that the results of their research is surprising in that the current technologies we have right now are not able to detect and identify the 30% of the people who have such undiagnosed small vessel diseases.

The research started at around 1994 making use of 1,100 older nuns and priests in identifying the signs of aging. They donated their brain to be autopsied after they die. In this particular study, 418 brain autopsies were performed, 61% of which were women and averaging at 88 years old on their death. Before the death of these participants, they were tested in terms of their motor skills in order to assess their physical activities. Parameters tested included balance, posture maintenance, walking speed, sense of dizziness, getting up from sitting, and taking turns when walking.

Says Buchman, “Often the mild motor symptoms are considered an expected part of aging. We should not 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.”

Before the start of their study, the researchers hypothesized that there is something common among the elder people which are indicative of physical decline, like small blocked blood vessels. After the autopsies of the participants, they found out that such lesions are undetectable by brain scanning technologies and are only seen upon microscopic observations during autopsies.

 

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