DAMAGE FROM WHITE MATTER DISEASE WORSE THAN FIRST THOUGHT, SAY TORONTO RESEARCHERS

Feb 25, 2014

By Jane Brown

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Cognitive damage from so-called white matter disease appears to be more widespread than first thought.  It’s different from Alzheimer’s, which shrinks the hippocampus causing progressive memory loss.  White matter disease is a more wide spread mind-robbing condition that targets small blood vessels deep within the brain’s white matter.

Scientists at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences here in Toronto have found white matter disease can sabotage several cognitive areas.  They’ve done a comprehensive analysis of more than two dozen published studies comparing healthy older adults to those who have cognitive impairment due to white matter disease.  The patients with vascular cognitive impairment, which is almost always caused by white matter disease, showed significant deficits in all eight cognitive areas examined, including thinking speed, language and immediate memory.  But researchers say the good news is that white matter damage can be minimized by adopting the same healthy lifestyle habits that reduce risk of heart attack and stroke.

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