-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- A build-up of calcified
plaque in arteries in parts of the body outside the brain may be
linked with brain changes that increase the risk of stroke and
dementia, a new study finds.
Researchers used CT scans to check 885 people, average age 67,
for calcification in four different blood vessel areas: the
coronary arteries that provide blood to the heart; the aortic arch
that delivers blood from the heart into general circulation; and
the extracranial and intracranial carotid arteries that carry blood
through the neck into the brain.
The researchers also used MRI to check the participants' brains
for evidence of small strokes, tiny brain bleeds and white matter
These types of brain changes don't necessarily cause symptoms
immediately but are often detected in people with stroke or
dementia and, over the long term, may be associated with cognitive
decline, explained senior study author Dr. Meike W. Vernooij, an
assistant professor of epidemiology and radiology at the Erasmus
Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
The researchers found that calcium build-up in each of the four
arteries was associated with white matter lesions and small strokes
in the brain, and that the amount of calcified plaque in the
vessels closest to the brain (carotid arteries) was most strongly
linked with signs of vascular brain disease.
The strongest associations were between intracranial carotid
calcification and the volume of white matter lesions, and
extracranial carotid calcification and small strokes.
The study was published Aug. 25 in the journal
Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
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