As the largest resource of information specific to women's brain health, we are sure you will find what you are looking for, and promise that you will discover new information.
Published on: August 13, 2012
A condition known as leukoaraiosis alters brain function in older people, according to a small new study.
Contrary to past belief, researchers found this common condition, in which diseased blood vessels lead to small areas of damage in the brain, is not a harmless part of the aging process.
For people with leukoaraiosis, which is also called small vessel ischemia, MRI scans reveal the tiny areas in their brain that have been deprived of oxygen. These areas appear as bright white dots.
“There has been a lot of controversy over these commonly identified abnormalities on MRI scans and their clinical impact,” said Dr. Kirk Welker, an assistant professor of radiology in the College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “In the past, leukoaraiosis has been considered a benign part of the aging process, like gray hair and wrinkles,” he added in a Radiological Society of North America news release.
These brain lesions are common among people older than 60 years of age. Some people, however, are affected more than others, the researchers noted.
“We know that aging is a risk factor for leukoaraiosis, and we suspect that high blood pressure may also play a role,” Welker said.
To test the effects of leukoaraiosis, older patients with normal brain function involved in the study underwent special MRI scans that measured metabolic changes in an active part of their brain. The researchers divided participants into two groups. One group included 18 participants who had a “moderate” 25 milliliters of leukoaraiosis. The other group included 18 other patients of the same age but who had less than a 5 milliliters of leukoaraiosis.
During the scans, participants were asked to identify word pairs and differentiate between straight and diagonal lines.
Although both groups successfully completed the tasks, the study showed the two groups had different brain-activation patterns. Patients with moderate levels of leukoaraiosis had abnormal activation patterns, including reduced activation in areas of the brain involved in language processing during the word task and increased activation in the visual-spatial areas of the brain during the diagonal-line task.
“Different systems of the brain respond differently to disease,” Welker explained. “White-matter damage affects connections within the brain’s language network, which leads to an overall reduction in network activity.”
The study authors concluded that preventing leukoaraiosis and identifying affected areas of the brain is key for patients undergoing pre-surgical brain-mapping or other treatments.
“Our results add to a growing body of evidence that this is a disease we need to pay attention to,” he said. “Leukoaraiosis is not a benign manifestation of aging but an important pathologic condition that alters brain function.”
The study was published online Aug. 13 in Radiology.
SWEAT IT OUT Sauna bathing, a form of passive heat therapy, is a traditional activity in Finland that is primarily used for relaxation purposes and is becoming increasingly common in many other populations. The typical...
Has anyone ever suggested that you take a deep breath to help you relax when you are feeling anxious or stressed? That advice has roots in the wisdom of ancient yogic teachings. Breathing – that...
It was when she got lost on the way to the only cemetery in town that Cynthia Huling Hummel realized she had to leave the life that she knew and loved. She was a minister...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.