Chronic abnormal blood brain flow in Gulf war veterans

A new study published in Radiology has found that blood flow abnormalities in the brains of Gulf war veterans have persisted and in some cases got worse in the 20 years since the war. The illness that the veterans suffer from is not well understood, but is thought to be associated with the neurotoxic chemicals and nerve gas used as weapons during the war. The three main symptoms are fatigue, neuropathic pain, memory and concentration deficits, balance disturbances and depression. Many of these symptoms suggest an impairment of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for forming long term memories and spatial navigation, among other things.

The research was carried out by Dr Robert W Haley, chief of epidemiology in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Clinical Sciences att he Universiy of Texas Southweatern Medical Centre in Dallas, US. The researchers used arterial spin labelled (ASL) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess blood flow to the hippocampus, in 13 control participants and 35 Gulf war veterans with symptoms. This technology can detect brain impairment subtleties too miniscule for normal MRI to see, which means less exposure for the patients to ionizing radiation.

These findings will help scientists develop possible treatments, and also begin to understand why some people are affected by chemical exposures, and why some are not.

Source: Radiology


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First Published in September 2011 ?

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