3.07.2006

What is White Matter Disease?
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Scientists are raising the alarm on a new form of cognitive impairment that is not Alzheimer's Disease.

The condition is known as white matter disease. Here is a reference from GE Healthcare BioSciences Europe

Unlike Alzheimer's, which progressively erodes memory, white matter disease gradually robs a person of the ability to make decisions, on everything from looking after finances and organizing one's day to choosing what to wear and what to eat for supper.

Lesions affecting the white matter of the brain appear to be preventable by taking simple steps - and the earlier in life one starts, the better.

"It's very much related to risk factors that are controllable," a scientist said. "It's important to know your blood pressure and have it under control when you're in your 30s and 40s (so) that you're going to have a better life when you're in your 60s and 70s."

The lesions in effect, strangle the brain by reducing capillary blood flow, and have been detected with a procedure known as DTI, more sensitive than MRI, which does not usually show the attentuation of white matter disease adequately. It appears that medications and substances used to treat or prevent cognitive impairment also show promise. Add this to the threat of cognitive impairment caused by Alzheimer's, and you have potentially hundreds of millions of people impacted. In the US alone, 77 million people are concerned with memory loss, however, the US makes up only 4% of the world's population.



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