Posted by WBHI on May 13, 2013 in Think Ahead
by Jeff Hansel for Post Bulletin:
Researchers at Mayo Clinic continue to unravel dementia-related puzzles, taking steps toward one day effectively treating Alzheimer’s and other memory diseases.
The key, say scientists at Mayo in Rochester, seems to lie in a “treatment window” of more than a decade, from the time the disease takes root in the brain until the moment a person first shows outward symptoms.
“Our study suggests that plaques in the brain that are linked to a decline in memory and thinking abilities, called beta amyloid, take about 15 years to build up and then plateau,” Mayo radiologist Dr. Clifford Jack was quoted as saying in February, when the “treatment window” first was announced.
The study reviewed brain scans of plaque buildup in 260 people, age 70 to 92. Treatment of plaque buildup after it plateaus might not be effective, Jack said in an interview earlier this year. But earlier than that, during the treatment window, it could be. That means early diagnosis will provide more time to treat the disease once an effective treatment is found.
Posted by WBHI on Apr 3, 2013 in Think Outside The Box
by Science Alert:
An Australian study has shown that plaque, long considered to be the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, is one of the last events to occur in the Alzheimer’s brain. This finding will impact the current debate about how best to diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease.
PhD student Amanda Wright and Dr Bryce Vissel from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research studied a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease in order to identify early versus late disease mechanisms and markers.
The data, published online today in the journal PLOS ONE, suggest that plaques occur long after memory loss, so may not be a useful early pathological marker for Alzheimer’s disease. The Investigators found that significant nerve cell loss and a range of brain pathologies, including inflammation, began at the same time as subtle memory problems appeared, early in the disease process. Plaques occurred much later, well after significant memory loss.
Posted by WBHI on Apr 3, 2013 in Think About It
by Ed Coghlan for American News Report:
Dementia – like the dreaded Alzheimer’s Disease — is a cruel enemy. It robs the patient and often their families of health, memories and time. It is a medical condition that disrupts the way the brain works. Usually it strikes the elderly. And it’s often, but not always, permanent.
“That’s the issue we try to understand right away. Everything is not Alzheimer’s. There are many different types of dementia and it’s important to distinguish what the patient has,” said Dr. Phyllis Hays-Reams. “When we determine which one, that can help us determine the best way to treat it.”
For physicians like Dr. Hayes-Reams of Kaiser Permanente in southern California, this diagnosis is critical. And to understand the patient history, they often need help. “We like to have a family member with us when we meet with the patient, so that we can understand what “normal” looks like,” she said. “We also encourage that the patient is evaluated by a geriatrician or neurologist.”
And that’s when the detective work begins.
Posted by WBHI on Mar 25, 2013 in Think About It
by Lois Alcosser for The Hour:
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease is shattering. But often the worst part is keeping it a secret. When the message to the caregiver is: “I don’t want anyone to know” a tremendous burden is added. The stigma of any mental illness still exists with the implication that it’s a weakness on the individual’s part, as if having Alzheimer’s is the person’s fault.
The same attitude used to persist with cancer. People didn’t want to mention the word. That finally changed and with the end of secrecy came the opportunity to get down to the monumental task of treatment and potential cure.
“Coming out,” letting family, friends and colleagues know what’s happening and loosening the chains of denial is a liberating decision. Nine times out of ten, people find that almost everyone knows someone affected by the disease and has experiences to share. This openness is necessary to fully understand symptoms, learn about lifestyle changes and bring relief and support to caregivers.
Posted by WBHI on Feb 27, 2013 in Helpful Thinking
by Tami Doyle for Marion Star:
“If it weren’t for our friend who is a crop duster, we would never have found mom huddled in the middle of the bean field. One minute she was there, the next we had no idea what direction she went since her house is surrounded by corn fields.”
This is the true story of a Marion family who has a mother with dementia. Their mother wandered off when no one was looking and couldn’t remember how to get back.
No cure for Alzheimer’s: There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or for most other causes of dementia. Researchers still do not know how to prevent the disease from occurring, how to stop its progression or how to reverse its effects. Hopefully, more research will make a cure possible. There are a number of drug treatments that can help some people.
Posted by WBHI on Feb 20, 2013 in Sooner Than You Think
by Cleveland Clinic:
A blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease may be moving closer to reality following a recent clinical trial at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
Kate Zhong, MD, Senior Director of Clinical Research and Development, and her team are working with a French company (ExonHit) to develop a new diagnostic blood test for Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, Alzheimer’s diagnostic tests aren’t performed until the patients exhibit symptoms of the disease. If the test is validated after this study and other tests, primary care physicians will be able to order a simple blood test to identify patients at high risk for the disease.
Posted by WBHI on Jan 26, 2013 in Think Ahead
by Tom Kisken for Venture County Star:
Kathryn Becker wants to know if, like her mother, she won’t recognize her own daughter one day.
The retired Navy engineer who taught herself two programming languages decided to undergo tests that may reveal her future. She went through a spinal tap and brain imaging that revealed biological components that may cause Alzheimer’s disease. The early diagnosis means the memory loss that makes it hard for Becker to use an ATM or find the right kitchen drawer for a spatula will likely evolve into full-blown Alzheimer’s. But it’s not a guarantee of that end result and brings no medicine proven to stop the progression, much less cure, a disease that affects 5.4 million Americans.
Doctors and scientists argue over when the diagnosis should be given and to whom. Officials of the National Institute on Aging say the uncertainty of the disease’s evolution means the earliest preclinical findings should only come into play during clinical trials for drugs aimed at treating Alzheimer’s before it emerges.
The chances of preclinical stages becoming full-blown Alzheimer’s increase if people already suffer memory loss or other cognitive lapses. But some scientists contend people with no symptoms shouldn’t be told of the preclinical findings, even if tests are positive.
Posted by WBHI on Dec 11, 2012 in Think About It
by Medical XPress:
Employing a combination of imaging and biomarker tests improves the ability of doctors to predict Alzheimer’s in patients with mild cognitive impairment, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.
The findings, which appear Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, in the journal Radiology, provide new insight into how to accurately detect Alzheimer’s before the full onset of the disease. Duke researchers studied three tests – magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), fluorine 18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET), and cerebrospinal fluid analysis – to determine whether the combination provided more accuracy than each test individually.
The tests were added to routine clinical exams, including neuropsychological testing, currently used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. “This study marks the first time these diagnostic tests have been used together to help predict the progression of Alzheimer’s. If you use all three biomarkers, you get a benefit above that of the pencil-and-paper neuropsychological tests used by doctors today,” said Jeffrey Petrella, MD, associate professor of radiology at Duke Medicine and study author. “Each of these tests adds new information by looking at Alzheimer’s from a different angle.”
Posted by WBHI on Nov 7, 2012 in Sooner Than You Think
by Medical XPress:
A new study from Tel Aviv University suggests that early clues about the progression of the disease can be found in the metabolism of the brain, making it possible to detect and diagnose Alzheimer’s at an early stage with a simple blood test.
When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, scientists usually—and understandably—look to the brain as their first center of attention. Now researchers at Tel Aviv University say that early clues regarding the progression of the disease can be found in the brain’s metabolism.
In very early stages of the disease, before any symptoms appear, metabolic processes are already beginning to change in the brain, says PhD candidate Shiri Stempler of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine. Working with Profs. Eytan Ruppin and Lior Wolf of TAU’s Blavatnik School of Computer Science, Stempler has developed predictor models that use metabolic information to pinpoint the progression of Alzheimer’s.
Posted by WBHI on Oct 20, 2012 in Come To Think Of It
by Health Aim:
It has been estimated that about 1.3 million people have Lewy body dementia, but no one knows for sure due to the difficulty in diagnosing the condition. Lewy body dementia often poses a diagnostic challenge and is frequently misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, or a psychiatric disorder. Dr. James Galvin, a neurologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, said, “This is not an uncommon disease,” but many health care professionals remain unfamiliar with the disorder.
Dr. Galvin has published extensively on the subject of Lewy body dementia. Dr. Galvin said, “I don’t fault physicians for misdiagnosing it. It’s not that easy.” He added that cognitive decline that does not take the classic form of memory loss is a cue that you may not be dealing with Alzheimer’s. Lewy body dementia affects considerably more men than women and seems to progress more rapidly than Alzheimer’s.