UNM Researchers Are Among the First in the Nation to Investigate Early Identification of Vascular Dementia

Some of the most troubling consequences of aging are impaired thinking, poor balance, and mood changes. In older individuals with hypertension, diabetes, or strokes, these symptoms can be a sign of vascular dementia.

Researchers in the UNM Department of Neurology are investigating patients with strokes and trouble thinking for a study of changes in brain function that will aid in the early identification of vascular dementia. These benchmarks of early brain damage will help to identify patients for future treatment trials.

According to the National Institutes of Health, vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s Disease and accounts for 20 percent of all dementia diagnosed nationally.

The research team, which is one of the first groups in the nation to be funded under a new National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke initiative to identify vascular causes of impaired thinking, is led by Gary Rosenberg, M.D., who is Chairman of the Neurology Department and a nationally recognized leader in vascular causes of dementia.

The NIH study uses the state-of-the-art MRI imaging technology at the MIND Institute in the Domenici Hall on the UNM Health Sciences Center Campus as well as other biomarkers in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid to look for signs of inflammation in the brain, which might be triggered by vascular disease, including patients who have had strokes as well as those with progressive (non-stroke like) changes in the deep matter that can be seen on MRI.

Patients who enroll in the study will be admitted to the UNM General Clinical Research Center for an overnight stay, and will undergo neurological, neuropsychological, and advanced imaging studies. These results will be shared with the patients and their physicians. Adults who have had multiple strokes or “mini strokes” or who have been diagnosed with ischemic white matter changes in their MRI and who also have symptoms such as impaired thinking ability, poor balance or mood changes may be eligible for the study.

For more information, call the study coordinator, Dr Jill Prestopnik, at 505-272-3735.

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