Narrowing of artery may trigger dementia: study

An exhibit of the human brain complete with a pair of real eyes at the Singapore Science Centre. The new research has found that though mild dementia may be caused by a narrowing of the carotid artery, it can be treated by taking pills and having a stent in the carotid artery (CAS).
PHOTO: Narrowing of artery may trigger dementia: study

TAIPEI - Research conducted by Taipei Veterans General Hospital (TVGH, 台北榮民總醫院) has shown that patients suffering from narrowing of the carotid artery may also suffer from mild dementia, a condition recognizable by dizziness and minor amnesia.

The TVGH's Stroke and Neurovascular Center teamed up with the National Yang-Ming University's Brain Research Center (BRC, 陽明大學腦科學研究中心) to study 30 patients who suffer from unilateral stenosis of the carotid artery and 30 people who do not and are otherwise healthy.

In the results published, 40 per cent of the patients showed some symptoms of minor dementia. Stroke is often perceived as the main cause for vascular dementia, but this research offers an alternative theory. People can get minor dementia without any history of strokes.

Li Yi-hui (李怡慧), a TVGH doctor specialising in internal medicine and neurology, said that these patients show no abnormal signs in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and are able to have normal lives. They do have some issues with their memory, Li said. After examination, it was found that their brains are similar to those of dementia patients.

"It is very hard to treat dementia. However, if we can find mild dementia patients in advance, we can help them from worsening," said Li.

She then stated that mild dementia caused by stenosis of the carotid artery can be treated by taking pills and having a stent in the carotid artery (CAS), a procedure in which a tube is inserted into the artery. According to Li, patients show improvements after these treatments.

Li also suggested that people who smoke, suffer from hypertension, high cholesterol or high blood sugar as well as people who take female hormones over a long period of time, visit their doctors if they frequently feel dizzy or find themselves forgetful. In addition, doctors should examine patients' carotid artery if such symptoms are reported.

Li reminded citizens to be careful when having a neck massage. If the neck is pressured too hard, it may harm blood vessels and increase the possibility of stroke.

The research was also published in international journals such as "Stroke," "Plos One" and "Neurosurgery."