Wednesday, 17 October 2018

7 Possible Reasons You’re Having Those Weird Memory Lapses

You’re in the middle of telling a story about your friend’s dog when a memory lapse strikes and—poof! —the name of the pup disappears from your mind. Or maybe you’re typing up a work report when a word that was on the tip of your tongue slips from your mental grip. It began with a V, right? Or maybe it was an R?

If all of this sounds eerily familiar, you’re not alone. Random brain farts like these happen to a lot of us. In one 2014 study in the journal PLOS ONE, 14.4 percent of the 4,425 18- to 39-year-olds surveyed thought they had memory issues.

If your mind veers off into worst-case-scenario territory every time you have a memory lapse—early-onset Alzheimer’s, a brain tumor—stop it right there. There are various potential reasons you might be dealing with memory issues, and most of them aren’t a huge deal at all.
  1. Maybe your working memory is overloaded.
  2. Your brain is aging (which is normal!).
  3. You’re dealing with depression
  4. Your medication could be impacting your memory.
  5. You’re not getting enough sleep.
  6. You have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  7. In very rare cases, it could be something more serious.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

15 common misconceptions and surprising realities about dementia and Alzheimer's disease

There are about 50 million people in the world living with dementia. It's the umbrella term given to the symptoms caused by various diseases - most commonly Alzheimer's. This is expected to go up to 152 million in 2050, according to Alzheimer's Research UK.

Despite the massive impact dementia has on the economy and people's livelihoods, there are still many misconceptions around it. There are also some facts that still surprise people.
  1. Alzheimer's disease and dementia are not the same thing
  2. People react differently to the words
  3. Dementia isn't an inevitable part of getting older
  4. More people at 90 don't have dementia than have it
  5. Almost half of adults don't realise it causes death
  6. A brain that is affected by Alzheimer's can weigh 140 grams less than an unaffected brain
  7. There are more symptoms than memory loss
  8. A third of risk factors are within our control
  9. Heart health and brain health are intrinsically linked
  10. Mid-life is the most important window for risk reduction
  11. It doesn't just affect old people
  12. Sometimes, it only affects sight and perception
  13. Aggression and confusion may come from these small perception errors
  14. Disrupted sleep can be a factor
  15. There is no cure or treatment for the progression of diseases that cause dementia

Monday, 15 October 2018

11 Tips for Looking After Someone with Alzheimer's

An Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis isn’t just devastating for the person with the condition. Many people will end up serving as caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer’s, which can be incredibly distressing, isolating, and life-altering.
  1. Try to be as patient as you can with your loved one.
  2. Don’t waste energy reminding them that they’ve learned something before.
  3. Keep things simple so they’re easier for your loved one to understand.
  4. Have go-to methods of calming them when they’re upset.
  5. Use aids to help them keep track of time.
  6. Build in more time for chores and self-care tasks than your loved one would have needed before.
  7. Accommodate (or anticipate) their requests if you can, even if you don’t understand them.
  8. Pay attention to signs that the disease is progressing.
  9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  10. Build a support network.
  11. Remember that you deserve care, too.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Alzheimer's disease, dementia cases to double by 2060

The number of people projected to have Alzheimer's disease or dementia in the United States is expected to double by 2060, says a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2014, there were 5 million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer's or dementia. The CDC estimates by 2060, that number will grow to 13.9 million.

"Early diagnosis is key to helping people and their families cope with loss of memory, navigate the healthcare system, and plan for their care in the future," said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield in a statement.

The study, which the CDC said is the first to forecast estimates of Alzheimer's by race and ethnicity, found non-Hispanic whites will have the most total cases of Alzheimer's and dementia. However, because of population growth, Hispanic Americans will see the largest projected increase in cases.

Among people who are 65 and older, African-Americans have the highest prevalence of Alzheimer's and dementias at 13.8 percent, followed by Hispanics (12.2 percent), and non-Hispanic whites (10.3 percent).

By 2060, researchers project 3.2 million Hispanics and 2.2 million African-Americans will have Alzheimer's disease or dementia. The CDC said as more people survive other diseases and grow older, the odds of being diagnosed with dementia go up.

"It is important for people who think their daily lives are impacted by memory loss to discuss these concerns with a health care provider,"

Positive Link Between Air Pollution, Diagnosis of Dementia

There is a positive association between residential levels of air pollution and being diagnosed with dementia, according to a study published in the September issue of BMJ Open.

Iain M. Carey, Ph.D., from the University of London, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study involving 130,978 adults aged 50 to 79 years with no recorded history of dementia or care home residence. A first recorded diagnosis of dementia was identified during 2005 to 2013.

The researchers found that 1.7 percent of subjects received an incident diagnosis of dementia (39 and 29 percent mentioned Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, respectively).

A positive exposure response relationship was identified between dementia and all measures of all pollution except for ozone; the correlation was not readily explained by further adjustment. The risk for dementia was increased for adults living in the highest versus the lowest fifth of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentration (hazard ratio, 1.40). Increases in risk of dementia were also seen for exposure to particulate matter with a median aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5 ┬Ám (PM2.5), PM2.5 specifically from traffic sources only, and night-time noise levels; in multipollutant models, only NO2 and PM2.5 remained significant. More consistent correlations were seen for Alzheimer'sdisease than for vascular dementia.

"With the future global burden of dementia likely to be substantial, further epidemiological work is urgently needed to confirm and understand better recent findings linking air pollution to dementia," the authors write.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Why your sense of smell could be a clue to Alzheimer's Disease?

Your sense of smell may give doctors early clues as to whether you’ll deal with Alzheimer’s disease. Since there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers are focused on ways to identify early signs and create treatments before dementia sets in.

Dr. Shannon Risacher is one of those researchers whose study focused on how people’s sense of smell could be connected to Alzheimer's disease.

Risacher and a team of researchers gave a “scratch and sniff” test of 40 different smells to a group of 34 people.

“What we wanted to do, was look at whether or not the performance on this test was linked to certain proteins known to be involved in the Alzheimer’s disease in the brain,” said Risacher.

The findings suggest there’s an association between a low score on the “scratch and sniff” test and the protein that accumulates in regions of the brain where Alzheimer’s tends to show up. The study also found that the sense of smell can be associated with atrophy in certain areas of the brain.

“The study is showing that you could have an early test that might alert somebody to further investigate it.” Fletcher said. “But right now, it’s (the study’s findings) too early to say that anything is definitive.”

“Currently the way we visualize the amyloid and tau (two proteins in the brain connected with Alzheimer’s) is through PET scans and they’re (the scans) perfectly safe but they are expensive and relatively invasive,” said Risacher.

“I think the smell test can be used on its own or maybe in collection with other types of tests as a screening tool that people can get every year.” Risacher said. This would be on par with an annual physical.

The study was published late last year in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment and Disease Monitoring.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Is this protein the culprit behind Alzheimer’s Disease?

Researchers have discovered a new mechanism that may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury. They now hope to launch a clinical trial to test a potential treatment in humans.

What causes Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, but a popular theory suggests a protein known as amyloid-beta slowly builds up a plaque in the brains of people with the disease. But in a recent study in the journal Cell Death & Disease, researchers looked at a new mechanism, which involves a non-amyloid-beta protein, a potassium channel referred to as KCNB1.

Under conditions of stress in a brain Alzheimer’s disease affects, KCNB1 builds up and becomes toxic to neurons and then promotes the production of amyloid-beta. A chemical process commonly known as oxidation causes the build-up of KCNB1 channels.


“Indeed, scientists have known for a long time that during aging or in neurodegenerative disease cells produce free radicals,” says study coauthor Federico Sesti, a professor of neuroscience and cell biology at Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Free radicals are toxic molecules that can cause a reaction that results in lost electrons in important cellular components, including the channels.”

The study finds that in brains with Alzheimer’s disease, the build-up of KCNB1 was much higher compared to normal brains.

“The discovery of KCNB1’s oxidation/build-up was found through observation of both mouse and human brains, which is significant as most scientific studies do not usually go beyond observing animals,” says Sesti. “Further, KCBB1 channels may not only contribute to Alzheimer’s but also to other conditions of stress as it was found in a recent study that they are formed following brain trauma.”

In the cases of Alzheimer’s and traumatic brain injury, the build-up of KCNB1 is associated with severe damage of mental function. Because of this discovery, Sesti successfully tested a drug called Sprycel in mice. The drug is used to treat patients with leukemia.

“Our study shows that this drug and similar ones could potentially be used to treat Alzheimer’s, a discovery that leads the way to launching a clinical trial to test this drug in humans,” Sesti says.

Monday, 8 October 2018

This common skin condition could raise your risk for Alzheimer’s disease

Genetics aside, everyone should keep a sharp eye out for the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists have recently uncovered some surprising early symptoms, beyond memory loss or confusion while driving. Now, research published in the journal Annals of Neurology says that one marker for Alzheimer’s disease could be written all over your face, too.

Rosacea (a skin condition that causes facial redness) could be linked to Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2016 study. To determine their results, lead author Dr. Alexander Egeberg and his team examined data from the Danish national health registry system for the years 1997 to 2012. The nation’s entire population of roughly 5.6 million men and women were included in the study, and about 82,000 had rosacea.

The final data showed that people with rosacea were seven percent more likely to develop any form of dementia—and 25 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease—than people without rosacea. The association seemed more prominent for women rather than men; while women with rosacea had a 28 percent greater risk for Alzheimer’s, men had a 16 percent greater risk. What’s more, Alzheimer’s risk for rosacea patients increased by 20 percent among those aged 60 or older when they first enrolled in the study.

About 16 million Americans have been diagnosed with rosacea, according to the National Rosacea Society. Often, those who have it show redness and acne-like markings on the face.

However, the study authors assure everyone that people with rosacea should not be too concerned about the results. The study only shows an association between dementia and rosacea, and more research is necessary to determine if a causal link exists. Learn the 15 myths about Alzheimer’s you need to stop believing.

“It is important for patients to remember that having rosacea does not guarantee that they will develop Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Egeberg said. “In fact, while the risk in rosacea patients may be slightly increased compared with the general population, the absolute risk [to any one patient] is still quite low.”

Saturday, 6 October 2018

AI algorithm accurately predicts Alzheimer’s disease onset

Scientists have developed an algorithm that can more accurately predict cognitive decline that leads to Alzheimer’s disease. Early preventive measures may help delay and even halt the disease’s onset.

Dr Mallar Chakravarty, a computational neuroscientist at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, and his colleagues from the University of Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, designed an algorithm that learns signatures from magneticresonance imaging (MRI), genetics, and clinical data. This algorithm can help predict whether an individual’s cognitive faculties are likely to deteriorate towards Alzheimer’s within the next five years.

Commenting on how the algorithm could positively impact the onset of the disease, Chakravarty, who is an Assistant Professor in McGill University‘s Department of Psychiatry, said: “At the moment, there are limited ways to treat Alzheimer’s and the best evidence we have is for prevention. Our AI methodology could have significant implications as a ‘doctor’s assistant’ that would help stream people onto the right pathway for treatment. For example, one could even initiate lifestyle changes that may delay the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or even prevent it altogether.”

The findings used data from the Alzheimer’s Disease NeuroImaging Initiative. The researchers trained their algorithms using data from more than 800 people – ranging from normal healthy seniors, to those experiencing mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease patients. They replicated their results within the study on an independently collected sample from the Australian Imaging and Biomarkers Lifestyle Study of Ageing.

Commenting upon whether the predictions could be improved with more data, Chakravarty said: “We are currently working on testing the accuracy of predictions using new data. It will help us to refine predictions and determine if we can predict even farther into the future”. With more data, the scientists would be able to better identify those in the population at greatest risk for cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s.

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, 564,000 Canadians had Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia in 2016. The figure is anticipated to rise to 937,000 within 15 years.

On a global scale, around 50 million people have dementia and the total number is projected to reach 82 million by 2030 and 152 million by 2050, according to the World Health Organization. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Presently, there is no truly effective treatment for this disease.

The paper was published in PLOS Computational Biology.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Financial habits maybe as important as a brain scan to identify Alzheimer's

Your financial habits may be just as important as a brain scan when it comes to diagnosing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Look no further than anyone who’s been diagnosed with a form of dementia, and their families will tell you the signs were there. They just didn’t know what to look for.

There's something about financial transactions that are so sensitive to difficulties with thinking, concentrating, paying attention, learning new information that often they're the first things when you look back, where the signs were there before the repetitive questions, the repetitious stories, the burned dinner, etc," Karlawish is considered one of the nation’s leading Alzheimer’s researchers. He’s a Professor of Medicine, Medical Ethics and Health Policy and Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania and is the Co-Director of the Penn Memory Centre.

He identified financial habits as tools for early diagnosis when new patients continued to land in his office after making a series of devastating financial errors. “There’s no reason why these errors have to be discovered by walking into a room full of fire and smoke. There should be far better alarms set-up, and even ways to predict people who might catch fire, if you will”.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Senolytic Therapies Seem to Stop Alzheimer's Disease 'In Its Tracks'

Scientists at the University of Texas have implicated a type of cellular stress for the first time as a player in Alzheimer's disease. And their discovery could lead to treatments for more than 20 human brain diseases including Alzheimer's and traumatic brain injury. One author of the study went as far as to say the treatment that researchers used on mice to rid them of the stressed cells stopped Alzheimer's disease "in its tracks."

They established a link between tau tangles and the stressed or senescent cells they found in Alzheimer's-diseased tissue. Senescence is the process by which cells irreversibly stop dividing or growing without dying. Already proven to be involved in cancer and aging, tau protein accumulation is known to exist in 20 human brain diseases.

Senescent cells are stressed. They are toxic. But they don’t die. They are, in effect, zombie cells. And what’s worse, these senescent cells accumulate in tissues and may contribute to tissue damage, inflammation and the development of various age-related and chronic diseases. The scientists at UT Health used senolytic drugs (agents that selectively destroy senescent cells or induce cell death) to clear the senescent cells and tau tangles in Alzheimer's mice. In the end, their experiment improved both brain function.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Some Risk Factors for Late-Onset Epilepsy May Be Modifiable

Dementia is a term used to describe symptoms that arise from damage to the brain caused by different diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. One of the types is frontotemporal dementia - but what is this, and are you at risk of it developing?

Diagnosis of epilepsy occurs most often in the young and the over 60s and because life expectancy is increasing there are more and more epilepsy diagnoses in the older population.  It has been known for a while that the risk of late onset epilepsy is associated with stroke and dementia, but a new study suggests that there may be a genetic risk as well as life-style factors such as diabetes, smoking and physical activity.  “People with dementia are at higher risk of epilepsy, and people with epilepsy are at higher risk of developing dementia” says Andres Kenner, MD, of the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, who was not involved in the research “And now, among the risk factors for late-onset epilepsy is the presence of the APOE allele, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s dementia, and which may explain the bi-directional relationship between dementia and epilepsy.” While more research needs to be done there are clear implications in this research for modifying some of the life-style risk factors and so decreasing the chance of developing epilepsy in later life.

Monday, 1 October 2018

It's not like people forget to name Alzheimer's. Why is Lewy body dementia so anonymous?

This is one of an occasional series of opinion columns on Lewy body dementia, other dementias, and end of life issues written by a writer who happens to have the brain degenerative disease.

As you can see by the chart the broad category is Lewy body disease. That's describing a brain disorder that creates the proteins believed to be the culprit of damage through brain cell loss. That includes Parkinson's and Lewy body dementia. 

Both Parkinson's and Lewy body, as you can see, are sisters under Lewy body disease.

Alzheimer's is not on this chart because it is not a Lewy body brain malfunction. With Lewy body disease, the proliferation of a protein, which when clumped together are called Lewy bodies. They are named after their founder, Dr. Friederich Lewy, a German neurologist.

7 Possible Reasons You’re Having Those Weird Memory Lapses

You’re in the middle of telling a story about your friend’s dog when a memory lapse strikes and—poof! —the name of the pup disappears from...