Vascular risk factors’ link to dementia needs study, world congress says

San Antonio (for immediate release) – Strokes, high blood pressure, elevated bad cholesterol, uncontrolled blood sugar and other vascular risk factors play a huge role in causing dementia, yet the world community is largely uninformed. That’s the opinion of the world’s top experts, who during a recent meeting in San Antonio passed a resolution calling on governments, industry and research institutions to focus on studies, awareness and prevention.

Small subcortical (or lacunar) strokes are a leading cause of dementia and disability, particularly among older Hispanics and African Americans. These strokes occur when small arteries are blocked, cutting off circulation. “The occurrence of a single lacunar stroke increases a person’s risk of being demented by 20 times,” said neurologist Gustavo Roman, M.D., professor of medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and staff physician with the South Texas Veterans Health Care System.

Four hundred delegates from 42 countries gathered July 11-14 in San Antonio for the third Congress of the International Society for Vascular Behavioral and Cognitive Disorders. The previous two congresses were held in Göteborg, Sweden, and Florence, Italy.

At the general assembly, delegates unanimously approved the “Declaration of San Antonio, Texas” expressing concern about lack of interest worldwide in the circulation and dementia link. Dr. Roman, who chaired the international congress with Donald Royall, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the Health Science Center, introduced the resolution.

“Despite the fact that prevention and early treatment of vascular disease are widely available at reasonable cost, almost all countries face the more expensive option of paying the expenses of hospitalization, nursing home care, and loss of labor and life resulting from stroke, heart disease and dementia as a consequence of untreated vascular risk factors,” the resolution states.

It goes on to say that “despite evidence of successful prevention of dementia by treatment with anti-hypertensive medications, no current trials have addressed this obviously cost-effective approach of major importance in health economics.” It also notes that no studies have been funded to conduct large-scale scientific studies of the effects of diabetes and other new treatments on preventing vascular cognitive impairment and vascular dementia.

“Even in people with Alzheimer’s disease, treating their high blood pressure can stabilize the disease, slowing the progression,” Dr. Roman said. “We must begin to pay attention to the relationship between brain circulation and dementia.”

# # #

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $536 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $14.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 22,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and allied health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields.

Share This Article!