Elevated levels of elevated potassium in the blood can cause problems with cognition and memory, according to a study.
A study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine found that elevated levels are linked to a number of brain disorders including Alzheimer’s.
The researchers looked at the levels of potassium in blood of people with mild cognitive impairment, and those with mild Alzheimer’s who had been given potassium-stimulating medications.
Elevated concentrations of potassium were linked to more problems with memory, concentration and attention, the researchers found.
“These findings raise the possibility that increased exposure to elevated levels could trigger a cascade of effects that could lead to cognitive decline in these patients,” lead author Andrew R. Pritchard, of the Department of Neurobiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, told reporters.
Elevations of potassium have been linked to some neurological conditions including Alzheimer.
People with Alzheimer have lower levels of amyloid plaques, which are plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
However, the research does not link elevated levels with Alzheimer disease in people who have not had the disease.
The finding may not be surprising because, until now, it has been thought that people with the disease have lower amyloids in their brains, which may make them more susceptible to dementia.
the researchers did find that people who had elevated levels in the brain showed more problems in memory and concentration than those who had not.
They also showed more oxidative stress and more inflammation in their blood.
The results are consistent with other studies that have found that amylotic plaques are associated with the development of Alzheimer disease, the authors said.
“This is the first time we have seen evidence that increased amyloidal levels in people affected with Alzheimer show signs of cognitive impairment,” Pritdale said.
The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
It was led by Dr. Anand Jain, of McMaster University, who was not involved in the study.
The findings were published in Science Transm Med.