Tiny blocked vessels in the brain may be playing a sizable role in signs of aging.
Researchers from Rush University Medical Center have found that microscopic lesions or infarcts — too small to be detected using brain imaging — may be the cause of many common indications of aging, such as shaking hands, stooped posture and walking slower.
Their study, based on the examination of brain autopsies of older people, was reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. The group found impaired vessels in 30 percent of the brains of people who had no diagnosis of brain disease or stroke.
Those with multiple brain lesions had the most trouble walking. 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 Dr. Aron S. Buchman, lead author of the study and associate professor of neurological sciences at Rush. “The public health implications are significant because we are not identifying the 30 percent who have undiagnosed small vessel disease that is not picked up by current technology. We need additional tools in order to identify this population.”
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