A condition believed to be a normal part of the ageing process has been found to have a negative effect on the brain function of older adults. Leukoaraiosis, also known as small vessel ischemia, is caused by diseased blood vessels which cause tiny areas of the brain to be deprived of oxygen. This leads to damage of white matter. However, it was previously believed to be harmless and is common in the brain of those over-60. The extent of damage differs in each patient and high blood pressure is believed to be one of the contributing factors. Dr Kirk M Welker, researcher on the study, claims that now it is important to take steps to prevent the condition. "Our results add to a growing body of evidence that this is a disease we need to pay attention to," he said. "Leukoaraiosis is not a benign manifestation of aging but an important pathologic condition that alters brain function." A previous study has also identified that leukoaraiosis increases a patient's risk of stroke, as blood vessels become blocked in the brain. Find out about dementia care and support services at Barchester care homes.