Science and Medicine

High Blood Pressure Can Cripple Memory

Vascular brain injury from conditions such as hypertension and stroke can have “distinctly negative effects”

Vascular brain injury from conditions such as hypertension and stroke can have “distinctly negative effects” on the ability to solve problem and organize thoughts as we age, experts say.

Bruce Reed, professor of neurology at the University of California, Davis, and colleagues wanted to see if there was a correlation between vascular brain injury from hypertension and stroke and the deposition of beta amyloid plaques, thought to be an early and important marker of Alzheimer’s disease. They also wanted to decipher what effect each has on memory and executive functioning

“The first question was whether those two pathologies correlate to each other, and the simple answer is ‘no.’ Earlier research, conducted in animals, has suggested that having a stroke causes more beta amyloid deposition in the brain,” Reed said. “If that were the case, people who had more vascular brain injury should have higher levels of beta amyloid.

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Test Could Catch Kidney Damage Sooner

Existing methods of determining kidney function, such as measuring serum creatinine and urine output, may not indicate changes for several days, allowing time for significant kidney damage to occur.

Two biomarkers can tell a physician if a patient is at risk for acute kidney injury, which affects up to seven percent of all hospitalized patients.

The results, which appear in Critical Care, provide insight into the potentially deadly condition that often affects those in intensive care and can occur after serious infections, surgery, or taking certain medications.

Existing methods of determining kidney function, such as measuring serum creatinine and urine output, may not indicate changes for several days, allowing time for significant kidney damage to occur.

Biomarkers, which are naturally occurring proteins or other molecules in the blood, urine, or other body fluids or tissues, may help physicians more accurately determine the risk of acute kidney injury (AKI) in critically ill patients so that early treatment can minimize progression and save lives.

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Deep Sleep May Improve Memory as People Age

However, in older adults, memories may get stuck in the hippocampus due to the poor quality of deep “slow wave” sleep, and are then overwritten by new memories, the findings suggest.

Neuroscientists have discovered a link between sleep quality and memory loss in older adults.

The slow brain waves generated during the deep, restorative sleep we typically experience in youth play a key role in transporting memories from the hippocampus—which provides short-term storage for memories—to the prefrontal cortex’s longer term “hard drive.”

However, in older adults, memories may get stuck in the hippocampus due to the poor quality of deep “slow wave” sleep, and are then overwritten by new memories, the findings suggest.

What we have discovered is a dysfunctional pathway that helps explain the relationship between brain deterioration, sleep disruption, and memory loss as we get older—and with that, a potentially new treatment avenue,” said sleep researcher Matthew Walker, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at University of California, Berkeley.

Published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the findings shed new light on some of the forgetfulness common to the elderly that includes difficulty remembering people’s names.

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