Brain Vessel Disease Poses Risk To Elderly

October 30, 2015

NewsStandOnline.Net (30-October-2015): One in three elderly people suffers from severe small brain vessel disease that may lead to strokes, according to a screening program of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Those with a severe small vessel disease will have a 3.4 times higher risk than normal people of developing cognitive impairment over three years, said CUHK Department of Medicine and Therapeutics professor and research team leader Vincent Mok Chung-Tong.

The study is in line with recent overseas medical researches that found that those with the disease have three to five times higher risk of strokes than healthy seniors.

Brain Vessel Disease Poses Risk To Elderly

Mok said half of those who started to have small blood vessels obstructed in the brain would show no symptoms in their daily lives.  The disease is diagnosed through an MRI or magnetic resonance imaging test.

Mok said 800 patients, aged 65 or above who joined the screening from 2012 to 2015, were those with minor to medium severity of small blood vessel obstructions in the brain, but have never had strokes before.

About 80 percent of those who suffer from the disease have high blood pressure, while smoking habits and high blood glucose are also common causes

Some patients who joined the screening are among the other half not free from signs of the disease.  Mok said 35 percent of patients usually have slight cognitive impairment while 15 percent would show severe cognitive problem.

“There could be very different symptoms between patients who suffer from this disease, ranging from a change in emotions or personality to more physical limitations, such as difficulty in walking,” he said.

At the moment, there are no ways to entirely cure the disease once it has developed, said Mok, adding it would likely get more serious as one ages.

“Keeping a healthy diet and lifestyle is always the way to go.  Research will go on for at least two more years to observe the effect of medication”, he said.

He will track patients on third- generation anti-platelet medication or cilostazol under his early prevention approach, while conventional treatments usually comes in only after patients suffer strokes.