As the largest resource of information specific to women's brain health, we are sure you will find what you are looking for, and promise that you will discover new information.
Published on: February 5, 2014
by Chicago Tribune:
The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is advancing age. By age 85, the likelihood of developing the dreaded neurological disorder is roughly 50 percent. But researchers at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine say AD hits hardest among the “younger elderly” — people in their 60s and 70s — who show faster rates of brain tissue loss and cognitive decline than AD patients 80 years and older.
The findings, reported online in the journal PLOS One in 2012, have profound implications for both diagnosing AD — which currently afflicts an estimated 5.6 million Americans, a number projected to triple by 2050 — and efforts to find new treatments. There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s and existing therapies do not slow or stop its progression.
“One of the key features for the clinical determination of AD is its relentless progressive course,” said Dominic Holland, Ph.D., a researcher at the Department of Neurosciences at UC-San Diego, who led the study and the is the paper’s first author. “Patients typically show marked deterioration year after year. If older patients are not showing the same deterioration from one year to the next, doctors may be hesitant to diagnose AD, and thus these patients may not receive appropriate care, which can be very important for their quality of life.”
Holland and colleagues used imaging and biomarker data from participants in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a multi-institution effort coordinated at UC San Diego. They examined 723 people, ages 65 to 90 years, who were categorized as either cognitively normal, with mild cognitive impairment (an intermediate stage between normal, age-related cognitive decline and dementia) or suffering from full-blown AD.
“We found that younger elderly show higher rates of cognitive decline and faster rates of tissue loss in brain regions that are vulnerable during the early stages of AD,” said Holland. “Additionally, cerebrospinal fluid biomarker levels indicate a greater disease burden in younger than in older individuals.”
Holland said it’s not clear why AD is more aggressive among younger elderly.
“It may be that patients who show onset of dementia at an older age, and are declining slowly, have been declining at that rate for a long time,” said senior author Linda McEvoy, Ph.D., associate professor of radiology. “But because of cognitive reserve or other still-unknown factors that provide ‘resistance’ against brain damage, clinical symptoms do not manifest till later age.”
Another possibility, according to Holland, is that older patients may be suffering from mixed dementia — a combination of AD pathology and other neurological conditions. These patients might withstand the effects of AD until other adverse factors, such as brain lesions caused by cerebrovascular disease, take hold. At the moment, AD can only be diagnosed definitively by an autopsy.
“So we do not yet know the underlying neuropathology of participants in this study,” Holland said.
Clinical trials to find new treatments for AD may be impacted by the differing rates, researchers said.
“Our results show that if clinical trials of candidate therapies predominately enroll older elderly, who show slower rates of change over time, the ability of a therapy to successfully slow disease progression may not be recognized, leading to failure of the clinical trial,” said Holland. “Thus, it’s critical to take into account age as a factor when enrolling subjects for AD clinical trials.”
The obvious downside of the findings is that younger patients with AD lose more of their productive years to the disease, Holland noted.
“The good news in all of this is that our results indicate those who survive into the later years before showing symptoms of AD will experience a less aggressive form of the disease.”
A recent meta-analysis investigates whether sex, age, and a particular genotype are associated with a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a chronic neurodegenerative condition, characterized by cognitive deficits in memory, thinking,...
Just because someone has difficulty remembering things, it doesn’t necessarily mean that what they’re experiencing is a symptom of dementia, a new Canadian study says. But if the person is not aware of the...
In the late 1980s, psychologist James Pennebaker developed a form of writing therapy called expressive writing. When you engage in expressive writing, you write about your deepest thoughts and feelings without concern for...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.