The study, which was published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica, noted that amyloid proteins, which were already linked to the condition, can be transmitted on poorly disinfected surgical instruments used during surgery.
Researchers looked into the medical history of four individuals and they determined that the patients, aged 30 to 57, had brain hemorrhages caused by a buildup of amyloid plaques. All four patients also underwent brain surgery when they were younger.
The scientists add that the brain surgery could be the reason behind the accumulation of the amyloid protein in the younger patients, which usually only affects people older than 65.
Earlier research has proven that small quantities of amyloid proteins can get stuck on steel wires and spread into animals' brains. Previous studies also revealed that abnormal proteins that cause the degenerative brain disorder Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease can be transmitted among patients who undergo the same medical procedures.
However, the researchers explained that the buildup of amyloid proteins doesn't always point to Alzheimer's disease. None of the study's participants were experiencing signs of early-onset dementia.
In a separate study by the same researchers, it was determined that four adult males with a history of head trauma who underwent brain surgery as adolescents also developed amyloid buildups.
Professor Sebastian Brandner, a lead author from University College London, says that they now have additional evidence that points to the possibility of the spread of amyloid beta pathology.
The professor noted that this doesn't mean that Alzheimer's itself can be transmitted since they did not find "any significant amount of pathological tau protein," the other hallmark protein of Alzheimer's disease. Brandner warns that the rare possibility of pathological protein transmission should make healthcare experts consider the importance of sterilization and safety practices for surgical procedures.
Study author Dr. Zane Jaunmuktane also cautioned that amyloid beta pathology increases in the brain as we age. Now that neurosurgery is becoming more common in older patients, this also increases the risk of transmission of protein pathology to other individuals in the same hospital.
Commenting on these findings, Dr. David Reynolds, chief scientific officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, notes that it is too early to draw conclusions based on a small study. However, he admits that the fact that these individuals all had brain operations and developed a rare amyloid-related disease point to the possibility that amyloid was passed from one person to another during neurosurgery.
Findings from a separate study released last January 2018 may hold the key to preventing dementia.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute promotes the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which can help prevent and control hypertension. This diet advocates the consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meat, whole grains, and fish.
The hybrid diet to combat dementia, called MIND, requires patients to eat nine foods or drinks regularly. The daily diet includes at least a portion of green leafy vegetables daily and berries twice a week. (Related: Go for a brisk walk every day to protect your brain.)
Stroke survivors who suffered cognitive decline followed the MIND diet for at least a decade and were able to significantly reduce their risk of developing dementia. The researchers added that the hybrid diet can also benefit individuals with healthy brains.
Dr. Laurel Cherian, a study author from Rush University, concludes that the hybrid diet aims to increase the consumption of foods that can lower risk of heart attacks and stroke. The MIND diet can also help make the brain as resilient as possible to cognitive decline.
A separate report revealed that another way to battle the symptoms of Alzheimer's includes taking some occasional down time to boost the memory. Simply taking a 10- to 15-minute break and relaxing might do wonders for your memory.
You can read more articles on how to manage or prevent Alzheimer's disease at Brain.news.