Posted by WBHI on Apr 28, 2011 in Think About It
by Dr. Chris Jones for Health 360
A progressive form of senile dementia, Alzheimer’s disease damages areas of the brain involved in memory, intelligence, judgment, language and behavior. The disease is characterized by the presence of neurofibrillary tangles and beta-amyloid plaques in the nerve cells.
Beta amyloid is a polypeptide consisting of 36-43 amino acids and is the main constituent of those plaques (deposits) found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. There are two types of Alzheimer’s disease; early onset and late onset. The early onset form, which strikes people between the ages of 30 and 60, is much rarer than the late onset form and affects only about 5% of all people who develop Alzheimer’s disease.
The appearance of Alzheimer’s disease is preceded by mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which affects about 16 % of people over the age of 70 and is characterized by increasing problems with memory, language and the performance of other mental functions. This condition goes beyond the normal forgetfulness usually associated with aging. Symptoms of MCI include forgetting important appointments, losing a train of thought midstream and exercising increasingly poor judgment.
People are essentially losing their minds and about half of those with MCI will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease within 5 years. So what could be causing this loss in mental capacity? Several factors have come under the spotlight.
Posted by WBHI on Apr 28, 2011 in Think About It
by Mayo Clinic
People who carry a gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease and have cardiovascular risks experience age-related memory decline 20 to 25 years sooner than people who carry the gene without cardiovascular risk according to a 17-year Mayo Clinic-led study recently published in Neurology.
The gene most commonly associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s is called apolipoprotein E (APOE), which has three common forms: APOE e2, which appears to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s; APOE e3, which doesn’t seem to affect the risk of Alzheimer’s either way; and APOE e4, which appears to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
About one in four people have one copy of the APOE e4 gene, which was inherited from one parent, and about two percent have two copies, which were inherited from both parents. If someone has two APOE e4 genes, the risk of Alzheimer’s is even higher.
In 1994 Mayo Clinic physicians and researchers, led by Richard Caselli, M.D., a neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, began a longitudinal aging study to examine changes in cognitive skills with aging and the influence of increased risks for Alzheimer’s disease.
Previous research derived from the same study shows that possession of even one copy of the APOE e4 gene accelerates age related memory decline beginning in the mid to late 50′s and for that subset that has two copies of the gene the effect is more pronounced.
The latest research examined the influence of other common medical problems that cause cardiovascular disease such as hypertension, diabetes, smoking and high cholesterol in combination with APOE e4.
Posted by WBHI on Apr 20, 2011 in Think Outside The Box
by Emory University
A study conducted by Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist in Emory’s Department of Neurology, and cognitive psychologist Alicia MacKay, PhD, found that older individuals who spent a significant amount of time throughout life playing a musical instrument perform better on some cognitive tests than individuals who did not play an instrument.
The findings were published in the April journal Neuropsychology.
While much research has been done to determine the cognitive benefits of musical activity by children, this is the first study to examine whether those benefits can extend across a lifetime.
“Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging,” said lead researcher Hanna-Pladdy. “Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older.”
Posted by WBHI on Apr 16, 2011 in Think About It
Doctors are not good at diagnosing Alzheimer’s and neither are spouses or children.
by Bob DeMarco for Alzheimer’s Reading Room
Previously I wrote — What Was The First Sign of Alzheimer’s Disease in Your Case? In that article I asked Alzheimer’s caregivers to list one or two things (memory problems, behaviors, or events) that might have alerted them to Alzheimer’s dementia earlier.
Most of the Alzheimer’s caregivers I know can look back and identify symptoms and behaviors that they now know were early signs of Alzheimer’s dementia.
One of the things that Alzheimer’s caregivers learn is that the sooner that Alzheimer’s is diagnosed the better the potential outcome. A failure to spot Alzheimer’s early can be disastrous.
I also learned over the years that typically when an elderly person starts to act out behaviors that are early signs of dementia little or nothing is done. You often hear these words or explanation – they are just getting old.
Personal care doctors are not good at diagnosing Alzheimer’s and neither are spouses or children. This happens because Alzheimer’s is usually hard to diagnose until a “big problem” or “big event” occurs that calls for an investigation into that problem or event.
Posted by WBHI on Apr 8, 2011 in Great Minds Think Alike
by Carolyn Schatz, Editor for Harvard Women’s Health Watch
When I’m stressed, I listen to a 20-minute mindfulness meditation tape. It always helps me feel calmer and more relaxed. Many meditative practices can do this.
But mindfulness meditation is getting a lot of attention because it seems to help with so many physical and psychological problems—like high blood pressure, chronic pain, psoriasis, sleep trouble, anxiety, and depression. It’s also been shown to boost immune function and stop binge eating. No one knows for sure what’s behind these benefits, but physical changes in the brain probably play a role.
Posted by WBHI on Apr 4, 2011 in Sooner Than You Think
by Kate Kelland for Reuters
Scientists looking for the genetic triggers that lead to Alzheimer’s have identified five more, doubling the number linked with the mind-wasting disease. If drugs or lifestyle changes could be devised to counter these genetic variations, more than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s cases could be prevented, according to the researchers, whose work was published in the journal Nature Genetics.
But those discoveries could be at least 15 years away, they said. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a fatal brain disease that affects memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to handle daily activities. It is increasingly placing a heavy burden on societies and economies across the world.
Posted by WBHI on Apr 4, 2011 in Think Outside The Box
by Science Daily
Laboratories at the University of New Mexico (UNM), Brown University, and House Ear Institute (HEI) have developed a new technique to observe herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) infections growing inside cells. HSV1, the cause of the common cold sore, persists in a latent form inside nerve cells. Re-activation and growth of HSV1 infections contribute to cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Details are published in the March 31 issue of PLoS ONE.
Posted by WBHI on Apr 4, 2011 in Come To Think Of It
by Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation
In the largest study of its kind to date, a team of American researchers has identified four new genes that appear to be linked to Alzheimer’s in old age. Another group of researchers, working in Europe and with the first group, identified a fifth gene linked to the disease. The findings could shed new light on why people develop Alzheimer’s and open up new ways of treating the debilitating illness.
The American study was what’s known as a genome-wide association study, the gold standard in genetic research, and looked at the entire genetic makeup of more than 56,000 men and women, about a fifth of whom had Alzheimer’s disease. The European study also looked at tens of thousands of volunteers.
Using gene chips and other novel technologies, they identified subtle differences between those with or without Alzheimer’s. Five genes were linked to late-onset Alzheimer’s, by far the most common form of the disease that typically arises after age 60.