Another Reason for Senior Moments
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A 'senior moment'Dave: Once I called my wife from the grocery store to ask why I was there; it's so embarrassing to have these senior moments.

Norbert: I’m lucky to remember to shave in the morning!

A new study points to something called brain microbleeds or BMB for contributing to our mental decline. It’s caused by stiff arteries, in particular the aorta.

The aorta is the body’s largest blood vessel and feeds blood to the brain. It’s flexible in order to smooth out blood flow to the brain, but as we age the aorta hardens, which increases the blood pressure there.

The pressure can be strong enough to rupture small blood vessels which leads to BMB. These small areas of blood vessel bursts kill brain cells which can be seen on MRIs.

About 5 percent of adults have BMB and it jumps to 34 percent in people who’ve had strokes from blood clots. It’s also associated with hypertension, diabetes, and some scientists believe it contributes to Alzheimer’s disease.

The stiffness of the aorta is measured by taking our central blood pressure, which is different from traditional blood pressure taken at the arm. The central blood pressure is the difference between the pressure wave of blood coming from the heart and the reflected pressure from blood vessels farthest from the heart. The higher the number, the stiffer the aorta.

Researchers measured the aortic stiffness of 500 people aged 20 to 82, and tested their cognitive abilities. The higher the central blood pressure, the worse people tended to perform on visual processing and memory.

Establishing that aortic stiffening is responsible for BMB, researchers would need to follow these same volunteers for many years. If the connection is made then the hunt will be on to preserve the elasticity of our aorta and prevent brain microbleeds.

For more information…

Microbleeding in Brain May Be Behind Senior Moments
"A new predictor of senior moments? Using a new method of measuring blood pressure, researchers found a correlation between aorta stiffening and lower cognitive abilities."

Brain Microbleeds Provide Clue for Alzheimer's Disease Origins
"Brain microbleeds, stemming from tiny, ruptured blood vessels, might help explain how blood vessel damage and amyloid plaque buildup work together to cause Alzheimer's disease, a new review of studies suggests."

Microbleeds Important to Consider in Brain-Related Treatments
"As growing numbers of America's baby boomers reach retirement, neuroscientists are expanding their efforts to understand and treat one of the leading health issues affecting this population: age-related neurological deterioration, including stroke and dementia."