Study suggests many older people have bleeding in brains

Listen to story

Download this story 0.0MB

A new study out of UC Irvine suggests that older people often have bleeding in their brains, even if they don’t have a stroke.

Scientists at UCI and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center looked at the brains of 33 older people after they died. They ranged in age from 71 to 105.

The researchers found that two-thirds of the brains studied — 22 of the 33 — had signs of small blood vessels that had leaked. They’re called “microbleeds.”

Previous studies suggested that “microbleeds” showed up in less than 40 percent of people in their 80s.

This new study, though with a very small sample size, indicates that a tiny amount of bleeding in the brain as we age might be more common than previously thought — and not necessarily because of stroke, hypertension or Alzheimer’s disease.

The scientists say the leaky blood vessels let out so little blood that they weren’t life threatening.

It’s still not clear how the tiny “microbleeds” in the brain might affect intellectual function or memory.

The results of the study are to appear online in the journal, "Stroke".