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Re: Atherosclerosis/Altzheimer's Disease - 3rd Post

Posted By kd on May 29, 1998 at 22:13:26:

In Reply to: Re: Atherosclerosis/Altzheimer's Disease - 3rd Post posted by CCF MD mdf on May 28, 1998 at 12:09:15:

There are several causes of dementia. Most people have heard of Alzheimer's disease, which is a degenerative disorder. That is, there are groups of cells in the brain which die off and no one knows just why. Not all degenerative diseases produce dementia - depends on which populations of cells in the brain are dying. Specific groups of brain cells dying -> specific disease, usually with its own specific name. Not only that, but the rate at which cells are lost depends on the specific disease as well.
:More relevant to your question, chronic lack of oxygen can impair memory and cognitive function. The term is ischemia - just means not enough blood supply.
So the answer is: vascular disease doesn't cause Alzheimer's, but small vessel cerebrovascular disease can lead to dementia and some other symptoms. Large vessel cerebrovascular disease (carotids, etc) is more likely to put you at risk for a more typical "stroke."
So, I think what you are saying is that you can have Altzheimers and you can have vascular dementia separately or together - that there is no direct cause/effect link?  Is there a greater chance of having them together or is it that people look at the result and confuse the two?
I've been living with the chance of potential stroke for a number of years, having had an endartarectomy and a number of TIAs but now that I've found that the atherosclerosis is throughout my body and that my "good" carotid is on the decline, I am concerned about that outcome as well.  From what I read, I was under the impression that atherosclerosis and Altzheimer's were more frequent together than apart.  As much as I don't want a stroke, I am even more concerned about Altzheimer's disease.  If I am a potential candidate for Altzheimer's Disease, as a 47 yo,  would if have already shown up on an MRI or the SPECT tests?
Thanks so much for responding!  

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