Monday, February 21, 2011

Could Alzheimer's start as a brain microbleed?

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HealthDay News

Amanda Chan

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, which have long been perceived as harmless and irrelevant in disease development, were found in 23 percent of patients with Alzheimer's disease in the review of five studies. A previous study showed that 6.5 percent of healthy 45- to 50-year-olds have microbleeds, whereas 35.7 percent of people 80 and older have them.

Though that percentage is not high, it shows that blood vessel damage is occurring in some people with the disease, said study researcher Wiesje van der Flier, of Visje University Medical Centre in Amsterdam.

Many researchers agree that Alzheimer's disease is associated with both blood vessel damage and the accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain, he said. This new review found that microbleeds could be a link between the causes.

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.."We now proposed that microbleeds are an example of amyloid pathology meets vascular [blood vessel] damage," because they represent blood vessel damage that occurs simultaneously with Alzheimer's disease, van der Flier told MyHealthNewsDaily.

The study was published online in the journal Brain: A Journal of Neurology.

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