Patients who have been diagnosed with Alzheimers disease may be at an increased risk of developing blood clots, according to findings published in Neuron.
Researchers discovered that in addition to causing damage to neurons, the disease may also be blocking blood flow in vessels found in the brain. This is because of an excess buildup of amyloid-?, a peptide found in the brain around brain cells.
In an effort to discover the link between fibrinogen, a blood clotting compound, and amyloid-?, scientists used mice that were genetically altered to show symptoms of Alzheimers disease.
The results of the study showed that mice with higher amounts of amyloid-? developed blood clots that were harder to detect and formed at a faster rate. However, mice with lower levels of the compound had less peptide buildup, keeping blood vessels healthier and improving cognitive function.
“Blood clots and the difficulty of breaking them down would cause a decrease in cerebral blood flow and increase in inflammation that could eventually lead to the neuronal dysfunction in Alzheimers patients,” said Marta Cortes-Canteli, co-author of the study. She added that “Alzheimers is a multifaceted disease, but we do think that targeting the association of amyloid-? and fibrinogen could be a very promising treatment.”
In 2006, approximately 6.4 million people who suffered strokes, often caused by blood clots, survived and are still alive today, according to the American Heart Association.