Keeping blood pressure and cholesterol low may help some dementia patients more than Alzheimer’s drugs, Michigan researchers found.
Michigan and Seattle researchers found mixed dementia is a combination of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, caused, in part, by problems with blood flow in the brain.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said mixed dementia affects as many as 20 percent of the 6.8 million Americans with dementia. The researchers say many people exhibiting symptoms attributed solely to Alzheimer’s — memory loss, confusion, wandering, trouble following instructions – may, in fact, be suffering from mixed dementia.
“Having risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol does damage to small blood vessels in the brain and can cause death of brain cells over time,” says lead author Dr. Kenneth Langa of the University of Michigan Health System, in Ann Arbor, Mich. “In addition, the Alzheimer’s disease process itself can affect the walls of blood vessels in the brain, making strokes more likely.”