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  • Resveratrol Decreases Brain Micro-Hemorrhages Despite High Blood Pressure & Improves “Sixth Vital Sign” (Walking Speed)

    February 19, 2015: by Bill Sardi

    After a decade of scientific misdirection the discoveries involving the red wine molecule resveratrol unrelentingly continue to be published in scientific journals.  Human studies are beginning to show resveratrol is relatively safe (safer than aspirin) and remarkably effective in human studies involving maladies of the eyes, brain, liver and heart, particularly when taken in modest but higher-than-dietary-level doses.  Its versatility to address so many biological factors that affect aging is nothing less than remarkable.  Among these reported advances is an astonishing discovery involving the aging human brain.

    Small hemorrhages in the brain are now believed to be the cause of age-related mental decline, not the widely reported beta amyloid brain plaque or excessive acetycholinesterase enzyme that literally erases the brain chemical acetycholine, known as a memory molecule. [Nature Reviews Neurology May 2006; MedScape June 17, 2011]  Acetycholinesterase inhibitors (Aricept, Exelon, Cognex, Razadyne) have been a flop for Alzheimer’s disease memory loss.  [European Journal Clinical Pharmacology July 2005]

    The origin of these hemorrhages appears to be loose iron and copper in the frontal portions of the brain. [Radiology Dec 2010; Journal Alzheimer’s Disease Jan 1, 2015]  However, it is evident that elevated blood pressure precedes the release of unbound iron and copper as these metals are released from red blood cells after blood pressure-induced hemorrhage into brain tissues

    Resveratrol not only delays the occurrence of these brain hemorrhages in aged mice but also dramatically reduces their number.  In fact, resveratrol reduced the incidence of micro-hemorrhages in the brain in old mice to less than the level young mice experienced (see graphic below).

    When a chemical that impairs the natural way blood vessels dilate (widen) to control blood pressure is given to laboratory mice their blood pressure rises and 26% of young mice exhibit micro-hemorrhages in the brain.  Under the same experimental conditions, 93% of older mice develop these brain micro-hemorrhages.  [Aging Cell Feb 9, 2015] So the aged brain is particularly vulnerable to this problem.

    It is noteworthy to mention that none of the mice with normal blood pressure developed signs of brain hemorrhages and only a few were found upon brain autopsy.  So elevated blood pressure is a dominating factor in aged-related brain impairment.  [Aging Cell Feb 9, 2015]

    Elevated blood pressure produces cell-damaging oxygen free radicals.  In this high pressure arterial environment resveratrol sends an alarm signal to active internal antioxidant enzymes (catalase, glutathione, SOD) that are controlled by a gene transcription factor called Nrf2.

    It is clearly demonstrated in the chart presented below that resveratrol reduced the number of brain hemorrhages despite elevated blood pressure.  Strikingly, blood pressure did not need to be reduced to reduce the number of brain hemorrhages.

    Chart: brain hemorrhages in mise

    High blood pressure = brain hemorrhages = decline in walking speed

    High blood pressure is probably the most prevalent disease of aging affecting ~80% of senior adults over age 65 years of age.  High blood pressure damages brain cells which impairs thinking and often emanates as a decline in gait speed (walking speed).  In fact, a decline in gait speed is an early signal that tiny brain hemorrhages are occurring.

    A decline in gait speed correlates with elevated blood pressure.  Senior adults with blood pressure over 140/90 exhibit a faster rate of decline in gait speed compared to individuals whose blood pressure is under 140/90. [Journal American Geriatrics Society March 2011]  Slower gait speed indicates a far greater risk of dying. [Journal American Medical Directors Association Oct 22, 2014]

    Here is where the animal science becomes applicable to humans.  Given that micro-brain hemorrhages affect ~36% of older individuals, disturbances in gait (walking), which are common among aged laboratory animals and humans who have high blood pressure, can be used to detect brain hemorrhages long before these brain bleeds can be detected by standard examinations.  And what is even more exciting, resveratrol was shown to improve the gait of laboratory animals regardless of high blood pressure! [Aging Cell Feb 9, 2015]

    Chart: Walking coordination ( Gait ) of young / old / hypertensive mice

    For accuracy, the mice who gait improved in the study mentioned above did not pace off on a walking path and researchers use a stop watch to determine their walking speed, their gait was assessed by coordination between their paws.  But this finding is believed to translate to human walking speed (gait).

    Walking speed (gait): the sixth vital sign

    Walking speed (gait) is considered “the sixth vital sign.”  It is reliable measure of frailty and longevity and predictor of impending falls and hospitalization among aged adults.  [Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy 2009]

    It is widely reported that a decline in fast walking speed predicts mortality. [Journal Gerontology A Biological Science Medical Science March 2014] In a study of 85-year olds, only 1.9% could walk faster than 1.0 meters (3.28 feet) per second and slow gait speed, less than a half a meter per second, more than doubled the mortality rate. [American Journal Medicine Dec 2012]  In fact, there is a group of senior adults who exhibit slow gait speed, mental depression, poor executive function (problem solving, organization) without memory loss. [Journal Gerontology Biological Science Medical Science Sept 2009]

    How to measure walking speed (gait)

    Gait speed can be measured at home or at the doctor’s office.  A 20 foot walking space with 5 feet to accelerate and 5 feet to decelerate is adequate for testing.  A stopwatch is needed.  Marks are placed on the walking space with masking tape.  Using the stopwatch the first time when the subject’s lead leg crosses the starting line until the leading leg crosses the finish line is timed.  Subjects must walk through the finish line, not stop at that line.  Instructions are provided how to do this online. [American Physical Therapists Association Fall 2009]

    Gait (walking speed) and longevity

    Here is what a large study (shown in chart below) revealed in regard to the relationship between walking speed (gait speed) and longevity.






    Walking Speed

    1 mile per hour
    or 0.45 meters per second

    1 mile per hour or 0.45 meters per second

    3.5 miles per hour or 1.56 meters per second

    3.5 miles per hour or 1.56 meters per second

    Probability that an 80-year old will live to age 90





    Median life expectancy for
    an 80-year old

    84 years

    87 years

    94 years

    97 years

    Source: Gait Speed And Survival In Older Adults, Journal American Medical Assn. Jan 5, 2011


    Gait Speed (How Many Meters Stepped Off) In One Second 1 meter = 3.28 feet




    Age 65-74

    Age 75-84

    Age 85+

    Age 65-74

    Age 75-84

    Age 85+

    Less than ½ meter
    per second

    (less than 0.4/meters)







    About ½ meter
    per second
    (0.4-0.6 meters)







    About 1 meter
    per second

    (0.8-1.0 meters)







    About 1 ½ meters
    per second
    (More than 1.4 meters)



    % NE



    % NE

    NE= percent not estimable due to too few subjects

    Source: Gait Speed And Survival In Older Adults, Journal American Medical Assn. Jan 5, 2011

    For reference, the walking speed required to cross most roadway intersections is about 1.2 meters or almost 4 feet per second.  [Topics Geriatric Rehabilitation 2012]

    Remarkably, resveratrol improved gait (walking) in aged laboratory mice which correlated with fewer brain hemorrhages REGARDLESS OF ELEVATED BLOOD PRESSURE!  So resveratrol is working for laboratory mice.  Will it work for you?  Don’t wait for your doctor to prescribe resveratrol.  Your brain cells haven’t the time to wait for doctors to catch up to this science.  Virtually every patient with elevated blood pressure should be supplementing their diet with resveratrol (preferably 2-4 hours apart from taking any medications).  – ©2015 Bill Sardi,

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