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Risk factors for a heart attack make a person more prone to developing dementia – Warns New Study

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For the first time in the world, a team of scientists from the UK’s University of Sussex led by Catherine Hall documented blood oxygen levels in the hippocampus and presented evidence as to why the ‘the brain’s memory center’ is vulnerable to damage and decline, an early sign of Alzheimer’s.

To know why this area is so sensitive, the researchers examined brain activity and blood flow in the hippocampus of mice.

They then used simulations to predict that the amount of oxygen delivered to neurons in the hippocampus farthest from blood vessels is enough to keep the cells functioning normally.

These findings are an important step in the search for preventative measures and treatments for Alzheimer’s, because they suggest that increasing blood flow in the hippocampus might be really effective at preventing damage from happening

says Dr. Hall.

According to this expert, if increasing blood flow in the hippocampus is important to protect the brain from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, we:

will throw further weight behind the importance of regular exercise and a low-cholesterol diet to long-term brain health.

Researchers believe that the hippocampus exists at a tipping point. The hippocampus normally healthy, they say, ‘but when anything else happens that decreases blood flow to the brain, oxygen levels in the hippocampus drop so low that neurons stop working.

We believe, says Hall, that this is probably why Alzheimer’s disease first causes memory problems: the early decrease in blood flow prevents the hippocampus from working properly.

That is, they write in their article published in “Nature Communications”, the same factors that put us at risk of having a heart attack make a person more prone to developing dementia.

That’s because our brains need enough blood flow to provide energy – in the form of oxygen and glucose – so brain cells can work properly, and because blood flow can clear away waste products such as the beta amyloid proteins that build up in Alzheimer’s disease.

The next step, they say, will be to find out if the lower blood flow and oxygen levels in the hippocampus are what causes beta amyloid to start accumulating in Alzheimer’s disease.

“Understanding what causes early damage will be really important in helping us learn how to treat or prevent disease,” says Hall.

Image Credit: Getty

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