Vascular dementia: how does high blood pressure lead to loss of mental function?
In a new study of blood vessels in the brain, scientists have discovered one of the factors that causes vascular dementia, a condition that kills brain cells and causes loss of energy, concentration and memory in patients. With the finding, new drugs can be developed against the disease, which is related to changes in blood pressure.
High blood pressure is actually the main cause of vascular dementia, which is counterintuitively described as poor blood flow to the brain. Explaining: pressure changes cause the arteries to change size to behave the blood, getting smaller or bigger.
With too much high blood pressure, however, they become “stuck” at a narrower size, restricting the blood supply to the brain. The lack of blood supply leaves the organ’s cells without nutrients, and, over time, they become weakened and die.
Key findings about vascular dementia
What scientists didn’t know, and what current research has revealed, is what causes the blood supply to become restricted when under conditions of high blood pressure. In tests with mice, it was discovered that such conditions disturb the communication between the arterial cells of the brain, since the cellular structures responsible for commanding the dilation of the arteries end up moving away from each other. With the message getting lost along the way, the blood vessel ends up permanently constricted.
The discovery about the influence of pressure made scientists look for drugs with the ability to restore arterial cell communication in the brain. By improving the blood supply to affected areas, the progression of vascular dementia can be stopped.
Although this may take a while in humans, researchers comment that the process of narrowing and widening blood vessels is quite similar between mice and our species — finding a drug for animals, then, could help us, and this has been the case. search for specialists. Vascular dementia, so far, does not have effective treatments, although some habits can prevent its onset.
Any drug that can improve the blood supply to the brain could also open up new possibilities for treating Alzheimer’s disease, which causes similar damage to the brain’s blood vessels. A treatment like this could improve the efficiency of current therapies, which focus on removing amyloid plaques from the brain, the result of the pathology.