Arteriosclerosis And Alzheimer's Disease.  Connected Till The End.

Is there a clear link between arteriosclerosis and dementia related conditions?  More and more studies are coming to this conclusion.  The ramifications of such a link would be huge in the area of Alzheimer's research.

I hesitate to write about possible treatments for diseases in which we have no positive cure at this time.  There is plenty of information coming out about new drugs to defeat cancer.  I hope some prove to be successful.  I've seen in our own family how cancer can effect not only the victim, but those around him or her.

And while we always continue to hope for a breakthrough, I don't want to pass along information that may not be fully evaluated.  The same would hold for any discussion of Alzheimer's treatment.  This disease is one of the most difficult to face for all involved.  It becomes a long term, life changer for an entire extended family. 

But in this case, it looks very likely that there is a direct correlation between coronary heart disease, in particular arteriosclerosis and the early developmental Alzheimer's stages.

Understanding Arteriosclerosis

So what exactly is arteriosclerosis?  Most of us know it better as hardening of the arteries.  It is caused by a buildup of fat and cholesterol in the walls of your arteries.  These vital vessels carry blood throughout your body.  When this buildup of fat, called plaque grows too thick, your arteries lose elasticity and narrow.  The actual term of this activity is atherosclerosis, which is a unique type of arteriosclerosis.  For this page, we'll use the two terms interchangeably.

"Benefits" Of Processed Foods

As arteries narrow and get thicker and stiffer, blood flow is greatly restricted.  Even worse, these plaque blobs can break away and flow through your body before lodging and causing a clot. 

Since your brain is the biggest consumer of heart-pumped blood- up to 25% overall- the odds go up that this floating time bomb of plaque could end up in your brain.  One result could be a stroke if the clot lodges there.

As we learned from the page about inflammation and heart disease, arteriosclerosis is pretty much self induced.  In most cases, a lousy diet is the reason for plaque buildup.  Too much processed foods high in omega 6 fatty acids forces the body to store up this excess fat.  This "belly fat" causes our bodies to release chemicals into the bloodstream.  These chemicals cause more inflammation along the artery walls and make your heart work much harder.

Arteriosclerosis causes 75% of all deaths from heart disease.  Coronary heart disease affects nearly half of the citizens of the United States and kills over one half million Americans each year.

Providing The Link To Alzheimer's Disease

So what about the correlation between arteriosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease?  There have been several studies that have revealed some common traits.  Dr. Chauncey Crandall, author of the classic book "Fix It" and the excellent follow up book, "The Simple Heart Cure," explains it this way.

"There is a genetic connection between coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease and coronary heart disease share a common gene, called 'APOE-4'."  He continues.......

"The APOE-4 gene provides instructions for making a protein called apolipoprotein E, which combines with fats (lipids) in the body to form molecules called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are responsible for packaging cholesterol and other fats and carrying them in the bloodstream."

Dr. Crandall concludes, "Apolipoprotein E is also a major component of a specific type of lipoprotein called very low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs), which influence the composition of cholesterol. While most cases of Alzheimer’s disease are not directly inherited, people who do have the APOE-4 gene are at higher risk for both heart disease and Alzheimer’s. It is a fascinating connection."

There was a study done years ago that already pointed to this common connection.  A medical examiner realized that the brains of people who had died from heart disease were also very likely to have characteristic "plaques and tangles" found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

These plaques are globs of a protein called amyloid.  These globs are found between nerve cells.  Tangles are bunches of a protein found within the nerve cells.  This protein is labeled "tau."

Now, do you remember we went over how the brain uses up to 25% of the blood your heart pumps?  When blood flow is restricted due to those hardened arteries caused by arteriosclerosis, your brain receives less blood and therefore less oxygen.  This reduced oxygen kicks open the gate that can mobilize a gene in your body that produces those dangerous amyloid plaque deposits.

What follows is often a release of an avalanche of chemicals within the brain which kill cells and create a clear pathway for Alzheimer's disease to begin it's slow, but certain death march. 

The Alzheimer's Association has funded studies for two decades into the relationship between heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.  Their studies indicate that over 3/4 of the people who die from Alzheimer's disease also suffer from a form of heart disease.  And since arteriosclerosis causes 75% of the coronary disease cases, we have a clear connection.

Here is a telling quote from the Alzheimer's Association.

 "A longstanding question is why some people develop hallmark Alzheimer's plaques and tangles but do not develop the symptoms of Alzheimer's. Vascular disease may help researchers eventually find an answer. Autopsy studies suggest that plaques and tangles may be present in the brain without causing symptoms of cognitive decline unless the brain also shows evidence of vascular disease. Many experts believe that controlling cardiovascular risk factors may be the most cost-effective and helpful approach to protecting brain health." 

"Like exercise, diet may have its greatest impact on brain health through its effect on heart health. The best current evidence suggests that heart-healthy eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, also may help protect the brain."  From research center

So there it is again.  Control the risk factors of cardiovascular disease.  A continuous theme here at  Follow that image of the four chambers of heart health in the right margin of every page.  It is on every page because it is that important. 

Here is a link to information from the Alzheimer's Association.  You'll find 10 ways to reduce the risks of dementia related diseases.  This article backs up the connection that is the focus of this page.

Please note that there is a reference to lowering fat in our diets.  They are referring to unhealthy fats.  Further down the page the authors cite the value of the Mediterranean diet, which we know features healthy fats among our food choices.

We still don't have a cure for Alzheimer's.  We do have a cure for heart disease.  It is very possible that following the plan to avoid or reverse heart disease may also be a way to avoid Alzheimer's disease.  It is possible to get off statins by improving your diet and getting regular exercise.  The same plan could be a firewall to dementia related conditions.  Would the Mediterranean diet and sixty minutes of exercise everyday be worth it? 

Arteriosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease may very well be intertwined.  The prevention may be as well. 

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Just below is a quote from "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson.  The chapter title is "Open Your Heart To Compassion." 

"Every day we are given hundreds of opportunities to practice compassion in action.  We can learn to be less reactive and live with more patience.

We can smile when others are serious.  We can drive our cars more carefully, pick up litter on the streets, recycle, and reduce our consumption.

We can resolve conflicts rather than create them, and we can become less judgemental and more inclusive.  When someone is aggressive, we can teach them to be more peaceful.  Instead of waiting for an example, we can be the example.

The more compassion that enters your heart, the happier and more peaceful you will become.  By knowing that you are doing your part to create a better world-whatever form that takes-you will fill any void that exists in your life, and you will begin to find the peace you are looking for."

What's New?

Just below is an article from Peter Schiff about passing the buck from one administration to the next.

Owning The Bubble

Just below is a link to look up your congressional representatives.   Let them know you expect accountability.

Congressional Representative Look Up