With researchers trying to find strategies to combat the rising incidence of Alzheimer in elders, a new risk factor appears to favor the development of this disease. Smoking has become one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the U.S., according to what experts from the American Lung Association say. More than 438,000 people die every year due to illnesses that are closely associated with smoking.
This unhealthy habit has a direct negative impact on the heart and lungs. Moreover, the vascular system can suffer damage due to smoking. Many other diseases and medical conditions can be aggravated by smoking.
Since this addiction is so closely linked to vascular diseases, a new study made by Finish researchers tried to reveal the extent to which it can influence mental illnesses such as Alzheimer. Previous surveys have shown that smoking is bad for the blood vessels that go to the brain. This habit can cause vascular dementia, a disease that is generated due to an insufficient supply of blood going to the brain.
This can further lead to small strokes that can prove to be fatal in some situations.
The consensus among experts is that smokers are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer as non-smokers. However, according to the study made by researchers from Kuopio University Hospital and the University of Eastern Finland, this new risk factor can be associated with the disease only if we talk about heavy smoking. As per their research, smoking more than 40 cigarettes a day for over ten years doubles the risk of vascular dementia at an old age.
There are a few pathological factors in smokers that can be associated with the simultaneous development of Alzheimer. These factors are also known for their contribution to the development of other diseases such as cerebrovascular disease or coronary artery disease.
One of most important refers to the fact that smoking can accelerate the processes that lead to atherosclerosis, one of the main causes of arterial stiffness. Arterial stiffness is usually associated with the rise of amyloid levels in the brain, a phenomenon generally considered the hallmark of Alzheimer. In fact, amyloids are such an important part of the Alzheimer disease that most treatments target this aberrant protein in the brain.
The same study pointed out that new risk factor is significantly lower in people smoking only half a pack of cigarettes a day. As per the survey, this group did not register an increased risk of vascular dementia or Alzheimer.
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