What Is White Matter Disease?

What Is White Matter Disease?

White Matter Disease: More evidence has been assembled that damage to cognitive areas is boundless from white matter disease. White matter malady is answerable for about a fifth of all strokes worldwide, more than increases the future risk of stroke, and is a subsidizing factor in up to 45% of dementias.

Unlike Alzheimer’s stroke, which shrinks the hippocampus beginning revolutionary memory loss, white material disease is a more diffuse mind-robbing precondition that targets small blood ocean liners deep within the brain’s white matter. The disease hardens the tiny arteries, increasingly restricting nutrients to white matter — the networks between brain regions involved in executive abilities such as planning, organizing, problem-solving, and attention.

 What Is White Matter Disease?

White Matter Disease Life Expectancy

White matter sickness is a disease that touches the nerves that link distinct parts of the brain to each other and to the spinal cord. These determinations are also called white matter. White matter sickness causes these areas to decline in their functionality. This disease is also referred to as leukoaraiosis.

A person with white circumstance disease will gradually have increasing difficulty with the ability to think. They’ll also have progressively worsening issues with balance.

White matter disease is an age-related, revolutionary disease. Age-related means that it usually affects older people. Progressive means that it gets worse over time. The life expectancy after a diagnosis of white matter disease depends on the speed it continues and the severity of any other situations it may cause, like stroke and dementia.

White matter sickness is believed directed toward be a factor in both collapses and dementia. However, more research must be done for further confirmation.

Many syndromes of white matter disease don’t appear until the disease has become more advanced. The symptoms may be mild in the inauguration and increase in severity over time.

Symptoms of white matter disease may include:

  • issues alongside balance
  • walking slow
  • more frequent falls
  • unable to do more than one thing at a time, like talking while walking
  • depression
  • unusual mood changes

Vanishing White Matter Disease

Mental disorder is a term for declining mental abilities, such as memory difficulties, language problems and psychological deterioration, which reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. There are several different brain diseases that cause mental disorder; however, they do have two things in common: the causes of these diseases are poorly found out and there are few good treatments for them.

But researchers at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre have discovered a possible cause of a common dementia, a finding that opens avenues for treatment. The source? White matter disease (leukoaraiosis).

The human brain has a wafer-thin layer of crimped grey matter on the surface, and white matter on the inside. The white matter consists of more than 100,000 kilometres of nerve fibres which connect parts of the grey matter with each other, and with the spinal cord and the rest of the body.​

Since Computerized Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanning emerged in the 1980s, doctors have noticed that as we age, the white matter of the brain commonly degenerates (and becomes spongy in appearance). By age 60, this degeneration, termed white matter disease, is present in more than half of the population.

Originally, white matter disease was considered a normal, age-related change. But over the last decade, medical experts have come to understand that the presence of large areas of disease in the white matter of the brain are associated with cognitive decline and dementia in patients.

White Matter Disease Treatment

White Matter Disease Treatment

Compared to healthy subjects, the patients with vascular cognitive impairment showed significant deficits in all eight cognitive domains examined, including executive functioning, thinking speed, general functioning, language, immediate memory, delayed memory, working memory and visuo-spatial construction. Thinking speed showed the greatest impairment, followed by immediate and delayed memory, while working memory and visuo-spatial abilities were the least affected.

It is estimated that 5 per cent of Canadian adults aged 65-and-older have vascular cognitive impairment (Rockwood et al. 2000), with white matter disease likely contributing in the majority of cases. The disease is thought to be linked to hypertension, high cholesterol, poorly-managed diabetes, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and smoking.

“White matter disease is a covert operator. It can slowly strangle the brain’s connecting pathways over time,” said Vasquez. “Many people may have white matter lesions and not even know that they do or that they should seek clinical testing for a diagnosis. This can occur because individuals may be unaware of incremental changes to cognition, or because they ignore mild changes that they attribute to the aging process. This makes it difficult to nail down a more precise prevalence rate in the Canadian population.”

The good news is that white matter damage can be minimized by adopting the same healthy lifestyle habits that reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. These include eating a low fat, healthy diet, regular exercise, managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and blood-sugar levels if you’re a diabetic, and not smoking.

Rotman Research Institute senior scientist Dr. Nicole Anderson was a senior advisor on the paper. The study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

White Brain Matter Disease

This prompted Dr. Daniel Mandell, a neuroradiologist with the Joint Department of Medical Imaging (JDMI), and his research team to find out what causes disease in the brain’s white matter as we age. Since the disease increases over time, the researchers thought that the culprit might be repeated tiny, undiagnosed strokes – a stroke is when a lack of blood flow injures a part of the brain.

Dr. Mandell and his team hypothesized that each tiny stroke might be small enough to cause only a minor loss of brain function. Neither the patient nor his or her doctor would notice the problem until enough tiny strokes had accumulated over many years, causing enough damage for the patient to develop dementia.

To test this theory, the team recruited five adults between the ages of 57 and 79 who had moderate-to-severe disease in the white matter of the brain and no evidence of previous strokes. Each week, for 16 weeks, they took MRI scans of their brains.

As they had guessed, but still found surprising, the researchers observed new, tiny strokes appearing in the white matter over the course of the study (watch the above video to see the white matter disease progress over a few weeks). These strokes had no apparent symptoms as the study participants didn’t experience any weakness, visual disturbance, or speech or language difficulties – all signs of a stroke.

“We were surprised to find strokes occurring in the majority of our study participants,” said Dr. Mandell who is the principal investigator of the study. “But even more interesting, we noticed that over the course of the study, the damage from these tiny strokes became indistinguishable from the participants’ existing white matter disease.”

“If the study participants had only had two MRIs, once at the beginning of the study and again 16 weeks later, it would have been impossible to tell that their worsening white matter disease was caused by strokes,” he added.

Possible treatment

Dr. Mandell’s study is the first to provide compelling evidence that tiny silent strokes are a cause of age-related degeneration in the white matter of the brain potentially causing a type of dementia that can be prevented or stopped.

Unlike most degenerative types of dementia where there are very limited treatments, this type, based on vascular disease, is potentially more treatable. More research is needed to confirm these findings, but the detection of white matter disease could eventually become a trigger to treat patients aggressively for stroke risk factors such as high cholesterol, lack of exercise, high blood pressure etc. to prevent further cognitive decline.

Published October 30 in the journal Annals of Neurology, this research is a major leap forward in our understanding of the aging brain. With more than 750,000 Canadians currently living with cognitive impairment, and a rapidly aging population, there has never been a greater need to understand the causes of cognitive decline and dementia.

What Is White Matter Disease

There’s at least one study that seems to show that white matter disease may be caused by strokes so small they’re unnoticeable to those having them.

These small, unnoticeable strokes are also called silent strokes. These silent strokes are believed to damage white matter, and therefore cause white matter disease. There’s also some evidence that white matter disease may be a cause of vascular dementia. However, more research is needed.

Risk factors for white matter disease may include:

  • smoking cigarettes
  • older age
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol

The most common risk factor is age, since this is an age-related disease.

White matter disease doesn’t have a cure, but there are treatments that can help manage your symptoms. The primary treatment is physical therapy. Physical therapy can help with any balance and walking difficulties you may develop. Your overall physical and mental health can be improved when you’re able to walk and get around better with little or no assistance.

Based on current research, managing your vascular health may also be an effective way to manage the symptoms of white matter disease. Not smoking and taking needed blood pressure medications as directed may help slow the progression of the disease and your symptoms.

Your doctor can make a diagnosis of white matter disease by discussing your symptoms and using imaging tests. Many people with white matter disease go to their doctor complaining of balance problems. After asking you some specific questions about your symptoms, your doctor will likely order an MRI.

An MRI is a scan of your brain using magnetic resonance. To see the white matter of your brain, your doctor may use a specific type of MRI called T2 Flair. This type of MRI helps your doctor see the details of the white matter in your brain, as well as detect any abnormalities within the white matter.

These abnormalities show up as spots that are brighter than their surroundings. Both the amount of these abnormal bright spots as well as where the white matter abnormalities are located will help your doctor make a diagnosis.

The final diagnosis is made after your doctor considers the MRI, your cardiovascular health, and any symptoms you have. The potential complications of white matter disease come from the symptoms and other medical conditions it may cause. Some potential complications of white matter disease include:

  • balance issues that limit mobility
  • strokes
  • vascular dementia
  • cognitive difficulties
  • poor outcome after a stroke

Can you die from white matter disease?

White matter disease has been implicated in tissue and clinical outcomes of patients with acute ischemic stroke, and data link white matter disease burden measured semiquantitatively and functional dependence or death in patients with spontaneous primary brain hemorrhage, according to the investigators.

What does white matter in the brain mean?

White matter of the brain. … Myelin gives the white matter its color. It also protects the nerve fibers from injury. Also, it improves the speed and transmission of electrical nerve signals along extensions of the nerve cells called axons. By comparison, gray matter is tissue found on the surface of the brain (cortical).

Can white matter in the brain be repaired?

Scientists discover roadblocks that stop brain white matter healing. NIH-funded study identifies molecule that may prevent repair. A new study identifies a molecule that may be critical to the repair of white matter, the fatty tissue wrapped around parts of brain cells that helps speed up communication.