Alzheimer's News

All the latest news on Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer's care, treatment and search for a cure in Bangladesh and around the globe.

What is Alzheimer's Disease?

Scientists aren’t absolutely sure what causes cell death and tissue loss in the Alzheimer's brain, but the plaques and tangles are prime suspects.

Does Memory Loss Always Mean Dementia?

Dementia is a broad category of symptoms that affect the brain and causes memory loss.

Symptoms of the Alzheimer’s can develop in people as young as age 30

Although, Alzheimer’s is viewed as a disease of the elderly, up to 5% of Americans with Alzheimer’s have the early-onset variety, which can start to show symptoms as early as one’s 30s.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Chronic Stress Damages Brain, Increases Risk of Dementia

Chronic stress

People with chronic stress and anxiety are at an increased risk of developing depression and even dementia, a new research has shown.

When the researchers noticed that mental illness is aggravated by stress, they aimed to address the question of whether anxiety damages the brain and whether they could identify mechanisms behind the connection between stress and mental illness.

For their research, the tem - led by Dr. Linda Mah of the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Canada reviewed animal and human studies that examined brain areas affected by chronic anxiety, fear and stress that are already published. They reported finding "extensive overlap" of the brain's neurocircuitry in all three conditions, which they said may justify the link between chronic stress and the development of neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and Alzheimer's disease.

Read more Does Memory Loss Always Mean Dementia?

Occasional and temporary fear and stress is normal part of life. This is common among people to feel stressed and anxious before a job interview or an exam. However, when these reactions become chronic or frequent, they can affect daily lives and interfere with work, school and relationships.

Chronic stress is a pathological state. It is caused by stress causing disruption on immune, metabolic and cardiovascular systems, which leads to decay of the brain's hippocampus (crucial for long-term memory and spatial navigation).

Read more Study:Access to nature makes men and seniors sleep better

Dr. Linda Mah, clinician scientist with Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute and lead author of the review said:

"Pathological anxiety and chronic stress are associated with structural degeneration and impaired functioning of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which may account for the increased risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia.”

Read more Blueberries May Help Fight Alzheimer’s

A man with dementia

Dr. Mah and colleagues focused on key structures in the neurocircuitry of fear and anxiety – amygdala, medial prefrontal cortex, hippocampus. These brain areas are impacted during chronic stress. The researchers noted similar patterns of abnormal brain activity with fear, anxiety and chronic stress – specifically an overactive amygdala (associated with emotional responses) and an under-active PFC (thinking areas of the brain that help regulate emotional responses through cognitive appraisal).

Read more PsychiatricDisorders More Prevalent Among Workaholics

This see-saw relationship was first identified in a landmark study by world-renowned neurologist and depression researcher Dr. Helen Mayberg over a decade ago.

However, Dr. Mah also suggests that damage to the hippocampus and PFC as a result of stress can be reversible. She said that both anti-depressant treatment and physical activity have both shown promise in increasing hippocampal neurogenesis.

Read more HowArtificial Intelligence Can Predict Premature Death

The researchers conclude their study by writing:

"Whether anti-anxiety interventions can reduce risk of developing neuropsychiatric illness needs to be established with longitudinal studies."

The paper is posted online this month in the journal Current Opinion in Psychiatry.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Music may improve memory in dementia patients, study finds

Music may improve memory

Music is a powerful medium that moves us physically and mentally. It has the power to transport us back to an earlier time or give us a sense of dejavu. Music has always been known to enhance our mood, but a new study reports that music may help preserve and even enhance cognitive function in elderly patients with mild to moderate dementia.

The findings of the study, conducted by researchers from University of Helsinki, Finland, and published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, could lead to better dementia care for the elderly.

Lead author of the study Dr. Teppo Sarkamo, a specialist in cognitive brain research, behavioral science and music research said,

“Our findings suggest that musical leisure activities could be easily applied and widely used in dementia care and rehabilitation.”

For the study, the researchers looked at the effects of musical coachingto 89 patients with mild to moderate dementia when they joined the 10-week intervention along with their caregivers. They were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Factors such as, participants’ age, dementia severity, care situation, and previous musical experience were taken into account.

The first group of pairs went through 10 weeks of singing, the second group of pairs focused only on listening to music and the third group acted as a control group, which involved standard care only.

Evaluations taken after 9 months into the trial showed that memory, executive function, orientation and mood already improved in the groups receiving musical coaching compared with the control group. Executive function helps us focus attention, plan, remember and manage several tasks at the same time.

musical keyboard

The researchers also discovered that patients with mild dementia and below 80 years old benefited the most for memory, executive function and orientation by singing. For the patients with more advanced form of dementia, music listening led to the most cognitive enhancements.

Furthermore, singing and music listening also relieved depression for patients with mild Alzheimer's-type dementia, compared with the control group receiving standard care.

Another interesting fact noted by the researchers was that the patients’ musical background made no difference in the results.

Researchers advise that patients with dementia shouldengage in musical activities during the early stages of the disorder. Dr. Sarkamo even advises patients that they should be encouraged by their caregivers to sing regularly or join a community choir.

“Given the increasing global prevalence and burden of dementia and the limited resources in public health care for persons with dementia and their family caregivers, it is important to find alternative ways to maintain and stimulate cognitive, emotional and social well-being in this population.” said Dr. Sarkamo.

“Especially stimulating and engaging activities, such as singing, seem to be very promising for maintaining memory functioning in the early stages of dementia.”

“In the later stages of dementia when the cognitive deficits are more severe, music listening could be a more easily applicable way,” Sarkamo concluded.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Blueberries May Help Fight Alzheimer’s

Fight Alzheimer’s

Blueberries, a popular fruit, already classified as a “superfruit” for its health benefits, could now also help fight dementia, new research suggests.

Blueberries may help fight Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study conducted by University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center in Ohio.

The study was conducted by the team from the Universityof Cincinnati Academic Health Center in Ohio. Lead author Robert Krikorian said:

"Our new findings corroborate those of previous animal studies and preliminary human studies, adding further support to the notion that blueberries can have a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive function in some older adults.”

Read more Does Memory Loss Always Mean Dementia?

A type of flavonoid known as anthocyanins, found in blueberries are not only responsible for its purple and blue color but, they also contribute to its numerous health benefits. Besides anthocyanins, an assorted variety of phenolic compounds can be found in blueberries. The compounds – quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol and chlorogenic acid contribute to the antioxidant capacity thereby increasing the health benefits of the superfood.

First Study Reveals Blueberries May Help Fight Alzheimer’s

One study involved 47 adults aged 68 and older, who had mild cognitive impairment, a risk condition for Alzheimer’s disease. They were given freeze-dried blueberry powder, which is equivalent to a cup of berries, or a placebo powder once a day for 16 weeks.

Dr. Krikorian reported:  

"There was improvement in cognitive performance and brainfunction in those who had the blueberry powder compared with those who took the placebo.

"The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts."

MRI scans conducted on the participants showed increased brain activity in those who ingested the blueberry powder, suggesting the superfoods may help fight Alzheimer’s disease.

Read more Blueberriesmay prevent diabetes, says research

Dr Krikorian said blueberries' beneficial effects could be due to flavonoids called anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve cognition in animals.

plaques and tangles in Alzheimer's

A Bigger Study Reveals Same Results

A second study involved 94 people aged 62 to 80 who did not have measurable cognitive decline but reported experiencing memory loss. They were given either blueberry powder, fish oil (containing omega-3 fatty acids believed to prevent Alzheimer's), a combination of fish oil and blueberry powder, or a placebo.

"The results were not as robust as with the first study," said Dr. Krikorian.

"Cognition was somewhat better for those with powder or fish oil separately, but there was little improvement with memory."

fMRI results for participants given blueberry powder were found to be less significant than those observed in the first study.

Read more Drinkingbeet juice boosts muscle strength in heart failure patients

Dr Krikorian says that the difference may be because the participants had less severe issues when they entered the research.

He said the two studies provide a basis for future research from which they hope to ascertain whether or not blueberries could shield against the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms. While promising, the less robust results of the second study indicate that more research will be necessary.

At present, the researchers plan to conduct a study involving participants aged 50-65, including a number of people considered to be at risk of developing Alzheimer's - people who are obese, suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) or hypercholesterolemia (high levels of cholesterol).

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Tombot Creates Robotic Dog Companion for Dementia Therapy

Robotic Dog for Dementia Patients

An estimated 97% of dementia sufferers experience behavioral and psychological symptoms of the disease (BPSD). Such symptoms, according to studies, can be reduced if the individuals form an emotional bond, especially to an object or animal. Tombot Robotics has now created a realistic robotic dog that can provide seniors with a stronger sense of control, connectedness, and purpose, ultimately reducing their symptoms.

Read more Studyof Centenarians Suggests Living Longer Linked with Living Healthier

After conducting multiple testing with groups comprising of up to 700 individuals with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, researchers at Tombot concluded that a robotic animal with a hyper-realistic appearance, feel and behaviors can greatly elicit an emotional attachment with seniors suffering from these types of neurodegenerative diseases.

Tombot decided to invent a whole new type of robotthat would give the seniors a feel of a real pet. So, they turned to Jim Henson's world-renowned Creature Shop to provide the artistic design services for their robots.

Read more Dementia Caregivers Want Robots for Joy and Sorrow to Take Care of Patients

“Drawing upon their Academy Award-winning animatronics skills, Jim Henson's Creature Shop wonderfully captured Tombot's vision, creating a Labrador puppy fit for the big screen. The Tombot robotics team then brought the puppy to life, with a full suite of sensors and inventing software control systems to make the puppy both autonomous and fully interactive,” saysa press release.
dementia sufferer with new robotic dog

Read more Diabetesdrug may help treat alcohol addiction

“Virtually all of Tombot's investors have (or had) loved ones with dementia. Through these interactions, we have come to appreciate that the benefits we are delivering aren't just for seniors with dementia, but also for those most responsible for their ongoing care and well-being,” said Tombot CEO Tom Stevens.

Read more HowArtificial Intelligence Can Predict Premature Death

Some of the Distinguishing features of the New Tombot Puppy

·         Realistic Appearance. A user-friendly design that is authentic to a real dog's anatomy. Tombot Puppies look, feel and move in a hyper-realistic way, far exceeding anything currently available in the animal robotics space.

·         Lifelike Expressions & Behavior. Software control system that allows the robot to respond to users in a manner consistent with how a real dog would respond.

·         Response to Voice Commands. Voice recognition system that listens to commands and responds accordingly.

·         Affordability. Roughly one-fifteenth the price of the Paro robot, the next best robot in the dementia space.

·         Easy Charging. Provides all-day battery life with a cord that plugs in for overnight charging.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Daily tea drinking may reduce dementia risk in the elderly

Tea drinking reduces dementia

Drink a cup of tea daily if you want to reduce your chances of developing dementia in old age, suggests a study from Singapore. Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) found that daily consumption of tea brewed from tea leaves cuts the risk of developing cognitive decline in the elderly by 50%. And, the risk is reduced even further (by 86%) in those who are genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. The data from our study suggests that a simple and inexpensive lifestyle measure such as daily tea drinking can reduce a person’s risk of developing neurocognitive disorders in late life,” says Asst. Professor Feng Lei from the Department of Psychological Medicine at National University of Singapore's (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

Read more Whatcauses aging? Can the process be slowed?

The longitudinal study involved 957 Chinese adults aged 55 years or older. The team found that drinking tea regularly reduces the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly by 50%, while APOE e4 gene carriers who are genetically at risk of developing Alzheimer's may have their cognitive impairment risk cut by as much as 86%.

The researchers also found that theneuroprotective role of tea is not limited to a particular type of tea, so long as the tea is brewed from tea leaves, such as green, black (e.g. English Breakfast and Earl Grey), or oolong tea.

“While the study was conducted on Chinese elderly, the results could apply to other races as well,” explains Prof. Lei.

“Our findings have important implications for dementia prevention. Despite high quality drug trials, effective pharmacological therapy for neurocognitive disorders such as dementia remains elusive and current prevention strategies are far from satisfactory.”


He adds:

"Based on current knowledge, this long term benefit of tea consumption is due to the bioactive compounds in tea leaves, such as catechins, theaflavins, thearubigins and L-theanine. These compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential and other bioactive properties that may protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration. Our understanding of the detailed biological mechanisms is still very limited so we do need more research to find out definitive answers."

Read more Scientistsreport significant breakthrough in anti-aging

In the study, participants, who were community-living elderly, self-reported their tea consumption from 2003 to 2005. Until 2010, these adults were evaluated on their cognitive function using standardised tools at regular intervals of two years.

Researchers also collected information on their lifestyles, medical conditions, physical and social activities. The team carefully controlled these potential confounding factors in statistical models to ensure the potency of the findings.

The long term benefit of teadrinking is thought to be from bioactive compounds found in tea leaves. These compounds may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

It is also thought that other bioactive properties of tea may shield the brain from neurodegeneration and vascular damage.

Read more HowArtificial Intelligence Can Predict Premature Death

“Our understanding of the detailed biological mechanisms is still very limited so we do need more research to find out definitive answers,” explains Prof. Lei.

The team is planning to conduct further studies to better understand the impact of Asian diet on cognitive health in ageing. The researchers are also eager to examine the effects of the bioactive compounds in tea and test them more meticulously through the assessment of their biological markers.

The findings were published in the scientific journal The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Dementia Caregivers Want Robots for Joy and Sorrow to Take Care of Patients

Dementia Caregivers Robots
Example of one of the robots designed by caregivers (Image Credit: Healthcare Robotics Lab/University of California San Diego)
A bit of robotic assistance can help people with dementia and their caregivers. Robots current available for the elderly help them around the house but there aren’t many robots that assist people with dementia. So, researchers at the University of California, San Diego wanted to find out what kinds of robots would actually help. They spent six months co-designing robots with informal caregivers for people with dementia, such as family members. 

Read more Studyof Centenarians Suggests Living Longer Linked with Living Healthier

They found that caregivers wanted the robots to fulfill two major roles: support positive moments shared by caregivers and their loved ones; and lessen caregivers' emotional stress by taking on difficult tasks, such as answering repeated questions and restricting unhealthy food.

“Caregivers conceived of robots not only managing difficult aspects of caregiving -- but also for supporting joyful and fun activities,” said Laurel Riek, a professor of computer science at UC San Diego, and the paper's senior author.

For the study, the research team led by Riek built relationships with three different dementia day care centers in San Diego County, reportsUC-San Diego.

Elderly dementia patient
Image: Creative commons
Researchers conducted a series of interviews and hands-on workshops with caregivers.

  • Based on the results of the six-month long community design process, the team identified various characteristics and designs a robot should have to support the caregivers and patients with dementia:
  • Robots should help redirect conversations when repetitive questioning becomes burdensome
  • Robots should be integrated into everyday objects that the people with dementia are already familiar with, or borrow features from those objects.
  • Robots should be able to adapt to new situations and to the behavior of the person with dementia.
  • Robots should be able to learn from end users, and customize and personalize their interaction and responses.
  • Robots should have human-like components. That is not to say that they should look human. Rather the machines could, for example, use a real human voice or face.

·       Robots should have human-like components. That is not to say that they should look human. Rather the machines could, for example, use a real human voice or face.

Read more ScientistsReport Significant Breakthrough in Anti-Aging

The researchers presented their findings at the Human Robot Interaction conference in South Korea.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Poor sleep increases Alzheimer’s brain proteins

poor sleep

A single night of poor sleep can cause a spike in brain proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease, a new study reports.

Researchers from the U.S. and the Netherlands have found that sleep helps the body clear away two compounds in the brain, called amyloid and tau, and interrupted, poor sleep may cause too much of them to build up.

While the study doesn't show that poor sleep causes Alzheimer's, it adds one more piece to the puzzle of what causes dementia. [Read more Study:Access to nature makes men and seniors sleep better]
The team believes that the findings back the notion that chronic poor sleep in midlife could elevate the risk of developing Alzheimer's later in life.

“When people had their slow-wave sleep disrupted, their amyloid levels increased by about 10 percent,” says study leader Dr. Yo-El Ju of Washington University in St. Louis.

Although scientists knew there was a connection between dementia and poor sleep, it wasn’t clear whether dementia was driving insomnia or vice versa.

The study was jointly conductedby researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; Stanford University in California, in the U.S., and Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that progresses rapidly. It is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for about 70% of all dementia cases. The disease affects memory, decision-making, language, thinking, and speech.

The brains of people with Alzheimer's disease feature two hallmarks of the disease – plaques of amyloid protein and tangles of tau protein. These plaques and tangles causes neuron cells to die.
In the UK, around 850,000 people are currently living with dementia, and the majority have Alzheimer’s disease, for which there is no cure. Although the number of dementia cases is dropping as people adopt healthier lifestyles, the number of people living with the illness is expected to rise to 1.2 million by 2040 because of the ageing population. [Read more Whatcauses aging? Can the process be slowed?]

More than a third of Britons also sleep for less than 6 hours a night, according to The Sleep Council.
For their study, the researchers sought to identify the most important phase of sleep.

“What we did was allow people to sleep a normal amount of time, but we prevented them from getting deep sleep or what is called slow-wave sleep,” Ju told NBC News.

“When we interrupted just the slow-wave sleep part, they still had an increase in amyloid. So this tells us it's getting the deep slow-wave sleep that's important for reducing the levels of amyloid.”
Ju and colleagues recruited 22 healthy adults aged between 35 and 65. All the participants reported experiencing no sleep problems and had no cognitive impairments.

The participants showed up in a controlled sleep lab. Half were allowed to sleep normally, while the other half were constantly kept in shallow sleep. [Read more Newprotein target may reverse memory loss in Alzheimer’s]

poor sleep

“As soon as they got into slow-wave sleep, they got a beep. And the beeps got louder and louder and louder until they came out of the deep sleep,” says Prof. Ju.

“It was pretty harsh.”

The participants didn’t realize their sleep had been interrupted, and this went on for the entire night.
The participants’ spinal fluid was analyzed in the morning.

“When people had their slow wave sleep disrupted, their amyloid levels increased by about 10 percent,” Prof. Ju says.

The subjects were also fitted with sleep monitors to measure theirsleep at home. Participants who experienced poor sleep at home were found to have higher levels of a second Alzheimer’s related protein called tau. [Read more Scientistsreport significant breakthrough in anti-aging]

Prof. Ju says they were not surprised to see that tau levels didn’t increase after only one night of poor sleep whereas this did cause amyloid levels to rise, since tau levels tend to change more slowly.
“But we could see, when the participants had several bad nights in a row at home that their tau levels had risen,” she adds.

Prof. Ju concludes by saying:

“At this point, we can't say whether improving sleep will reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's. All we can really say is that bad sleep increases levels of some proteins that are associated with Alzheimer's disease. But a good night's sleep is something you want to be striving for anyway.”
Next, the team plans to study whether treating obstructive sleep apnea will improve people's slow-wave sleep and affect amyloid levels. Sleep apnea is a common cause of sleep disruption. People with this condition have a higher risk of developing dementia.

The study was published in the journal Brain.

Family History of Alzheimer’s May Explain Link of Metabolic Gene that Raises Risk for Disease

family history

Years of conflicting research that failed to pinpoint the missing link between a mitochondrial gene and the risk of Alzheimer’s may have finally been resolved by the scientists of Iowa State University (ISU) in the U.S. The researchers say that family history of Alzheimer's disease may be the missing link. It shows that having a family history of Alzheimer's disease appears to alter the behavior of the gene called TOMM40.

Lead researcher AurielWillette, assistant professor of food science and human nutrition at ISU, says the initial discovery of the gene TOMM40 gave the scientists impression that it raises the risk of Alzheimer’s. But the findings were later dismissed when several studies failed to replicate the results.
However, Willette and his colleagues weren’t convinced that the gene was a total failure, so they decided to examine other elements that may be producing the mixed results.

The researchers discovered a startling difference in the gene’s effect on cognitive function, memory and risk based on a family history of Alzheimer’s disease and the length of a specific part of the gene.
“It was kind of a shot in the dark, but we found if you don’t have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, then having a longer version of the gene is a good thing. It is related to better memory up to 10 years later and about one-fifth of the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease,” said Willette, who is also an adjunct assistant professor of neurology at the University of Iowa.

“However, if your mom or dad has Alzheimer’s, then having a long version is bad. It’s a complete polar opposite.”

The main pathological hallmarks ofAlzheimer’s disease are amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles, caused by tau protein. These plaques and tangles around the neurons eventually cause the neurons to die.

Outward symptoms start with mild memoryloss. As the symptoms progress, the person finds it increasingly difficult to hold a conversation or carry out everyday tasks such as button a shirt.
Although numerous studies being conducted worldwide are providing new clues, scientists still do not know the exact causesof Alzheimer's disease. They think that there are various factors, and some of these affect different people in different ways, according to the study.

family history of alzheimer's

Family history of Alzheimer’s and TOMM40

The researchers designed the study to explore the magnitude to which family history regulated the effects of TOMM40 on symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, such as thinking and memory loss.
They used data from two large studies of Alzheimer's disease. One set of data came from 912 adults in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention – a study which is following middle-aged adults at risk of developing Alzheimer's and following changes in cognitive function and memory loss, based on assessments carried out every 2 years for up to a decade.

The other set of data came from 365 participants in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative – a study which is monitoring similar changes in older adults with and without the disease.
The researchers found that having a family history of Alzheimer's disease appears to make a big difference in how TOMM40 affects memory and thinking, and that the difference depends on the length of a particular portion of the gene. [Read more Study:Access to nature makes men and seniors sleep better]

Prof. Willette and his team found that having the longer version of the gene, together with no family history of Alzheimer's, was linked to around a one-fifth lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and better memory up to 10 years later.

Family history was focused particularly on whether Alzheimer’s disease was found in a participant’s parents. The researchers also discovered a link between the family history, gene, and mitochondrial function, which produces energy to power the cells. Age, gender and education were controlled for in the examination of TOMM40 gene and family history in the participants.

The team is also involved in another project which is investigating factors that affect how the body makes and uses energy, such as insulin resistance, as well as proteins and enzymes that affect energy regulation.

Studies like these are slowly uncovering what happens to thinking and memory when there is not enough energy for brain cells to perform properly.

The study was published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

What is Alzheimer’s Disease and How is it Treated?

Alzheimers disease treatment

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate, resulting in memory loss and cognitive decline. It is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80% of dementia cases in the U.S. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s usually develop slowly, but get worse over time, and at the end stage the patient forgets how to perform daily tasks such as wearing a shirt or going to the bathroom.


Alzheimer’s is the 6thleading cause of death in the U.S. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. The number is believed to rise to nearly 14 million by 2050. Every 65 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s.
Globally, every 3 seconds someone develops dementia. In 2015, an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide were living with dementia and this number is projected to rise to 50 million in 2017. Much of the increase will be in developing countries. Low and middle-income countries already have 58% of dementia cases worldwide. China, India, and other South Asian countries will see a dramatic rise in dementia cases because these countries are seeing the fastest growth in their elderly population.

A Short History

Alzheimers disease treatment
Dr. Alzheimer (left), his patient Auguste Deter (right)

The disease is named after German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer, who first described it in 1901. During the 1890s, Dr. Alzheimer had a female patient named Auguste Deter. Fifty-year-old Deter was showing signs of dementia. She also had trouble sleeping, and she’d drag sheets across the house, and scream for hours in the middle of the night. Deter was admitted to a mental institution in Frankfurt, Germany. When Dr. Alzheimer would ask her to write her name, she’d forget her name and repeat, “I have lost myself.” When she was put in an isolation room for a while and later released, she ran out screaming, “I will not be cut. I do not cut myself.” Dr. Alzheimer called it the “Disease of Forgetfulness.” Deter died in 1906 of “sepsis caused by an infected bedsore” in 1906. Alzheimer decided to examine her brain and upon examination he discovered senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. These are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

What Causes Alzheimer’s?

Like all types of dementia, Alzheimer's disease is caused by brain cell death.

Beta Amyloid Plaques

Alzheimers disease treatment

In Alzheimer’s disease amyloid plaques accumulate between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Amyloid is a general term for protein fragments thatour body produces naturally. Beta amyloid is a protein piece clipped from an amyloid precursor protein (APP). In the brain of a healthy person, these pieces of protein are broken down and removed. But in Alzheimer's disease, these fragments are not eliminated and they amass to form solid, insoluble plaques.

Neurofibrillary Tangles

These are insoluble twisted fibers found inside the cells of the brain. A protein called tau is the main component of these tangles. Tau builds part of a structure called a microtubule, which aids in transporting nutrients and other vital substances from one part of the nerve cell to another. Inside the brain of Alzheimer's disease patient, the tau protein is abnormal and the microtubule formations collapse.

What are the Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s?

Age. Increased age is the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. For most people with Alzheimer’s, they get it after age 65.

Family history. People who have a parentor sibling with Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop the disease.

Gender. Women are at greater risk of developing the disease than men. Out of the 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s in the United States, 3.2 million are women.

Genes. Genes play a big role in the development of Alzheimer’s. According to scientists, two categories of genes – risk genes and deterministic genes – influence whether a person develops a disease. Alzheimer's genes have been found in both categories.

Down syndrome. Scientists do not know why, but people with Down Syndrome often get Alzheimer's disease in their 30s and 40s.

Head injury. Some studies have found a link between Alzheimer's disease and a major head trauma.

Other factors. High cholesterol in blood and high blood pressure may also raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s
Early-onset Alzheimer's can affect younger people with a family history of the disease, normally between the ages of 30 and 60 years. Less than 5% of all Alzheimer’s cases are early-onset.

What are the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s?

The early signs of Alzheimer’s may be forgetting recent events or conversations. The progression of the disease causes the person to develop severe memory impairment, which makes them unable to carry out simple everyday tasks. However, it should be noted that loss of memory doesn’t always mean dementia.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may include:
  • Misplacing personal belongings
  • Repetitive questions or conversations
  • Getting lost in familiar surroundings
  • Forgetting appointments orevents
  • Lack of understanding of safety risks
  • Unable to make decisions or poor decision-making ability
  • Inability to oversee finances
  • Inability to recognize faces
  • Difficulty finding common words while conversing
  • Inability to use simple tools
  • Impaired speaking, writing and reading
  • Errors in writing, spelling and speaking
  • Mood changes, including agitation, apathy and social withdrawal
  • Compulsive, obsessive, or socially unacceptable behavior
  • Loss of empathy

What are the Stages of Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer's progression can be broken down into 3 main stages:
Preclinical. It is the stage before symptoms appear
Mild cognitive impairment. Symptoms are mild at this stage
Dementia. This is the stage when the person is believed to have dementia

How is Alzheimer’s Diagnosed?

There is no single test for Alzheimer's, so doctors usually do a check on the person's medical history, history from relatives, and behavioral observations before making a diagnosis. Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Single-photon emission computedtomography (SPECT) or positron emission tomography (PET) are standard procedures, which help to exclude other cerebral pathology or subtypes of dementia.
The person's neurological function may also be checked. It may be done by testing their senses, balance, and reflexes.
Other tests may include a blood or urine test etc.
Sometimes the dementia symptoms may be linked to an inherited disorder such as Huntington's disease, so doctors may do a genetic testing.

Cognitive Assessment
Alzheimers disease treatment

To do a cognitive assessment, the doctor may ask the person following questions:
  • What is your first name and last name?
  • What is your age?
  • What is your spouse’s name?
  • What is your date of birth?
  • What is the time, to the nearest hour?
  • Can you recognize two people, for example, the doctor, nurse, or caregiver?
  • What year is it now?
  • In which year did (WW II) happen?
  • What is the name of the hospital or town we are in?
  • Who’s the president?
  • Count backward from 20 down to 1

What are the treatments for Alzheimer’s?

There is no known cure for Alzheimer's. Scientists cannot reverse the death of brain cells.
However, therapeutic interventions may ease the symptoms of the disease.

Is Alzheimer’s Preventable?

Alzheimer's isn’t a preventablecondition. But a range of lifestyle risk factors for the condition can be modified. Studies have found that changes in diet, exercise and habits – steps to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease – may also reduce one’s risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other disorders that cause dementia. The following lifestyle choices may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, healthy oils and foods low in saturated fat
  • Follow guidelines to manage diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
  • Do not smoke
Studies have shown that creating art, participating in social events, reading, playing board games, dancing, playing an instrument, and other activities that require mental activity and social engagement may help keep dementia at bay.

Famous People with Alzheimer’s

Alzheimers disease treatment
Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life"
  • Malcolm Young (1953 – 2017). Legendary guitarist of AC/DC
  • Glenn Campbell (1936-2017). Country singer and guitarist
  • Perry Como (1912-2001). Singer, TV personality
  • Charles Bronson (1921 — 2003). Actor, famous for “Deathwish” movies
  • Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004). US president
  • Charlton Heston (1923 – 2008). Legendary actor
  • Norman Rockwell (1894 – 1978). Famous painter
  • Rita Hayworth (1918 – 1987). Famous actress
  • Sugar Ray Robinson (1921 – 1989). Famous boxer
  • Estelle Getty (1923 – 1998). Actress well-known for “Golden Girls”
  • Peter Falk (1927 – 2011). Actor, best known for TV series “Columbo”
  • James Stewart (1908 – 1997). Legendary actor famous for “It’s a wonderful life,” “Mr. Smith goes to Washington,” and many other movies
  • Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005). Civil rights activist known as “the Mother of the Freedom Movement”
  • Robin Williams (1951 – 2014). Famous actor. Although Williams was thought to have Alzheimer’s, it was revealed after his death that he wassuffering from Lewy Body Dementia.
  • Casey Kasem (1932 – 2014). Famous for America’s Top 40 Countdown

If you have a loved one who you think might have Alzheimer’s, you may seek help by contacting Alzheimer’s helpline.

Families of Alzheimer’s patients can seek help from senior care referral services such as A Place for Mom to receive care options that’s a good match for their family.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Alzheimer’s memory loss may be reversed by blocking a key enzyme

Alzheimers memory loss reversed by blocking HDAC2

Targeting an enzyme that interferes with memory-forming processes in Alzheimer’s patients can be an effective treatment for memory loss, according to a new study. A team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the U.S. found that it may be possible to reverse Alzheimer’s related memory loss with drugs that selectively impede the ability of the Histone deacetylase-2 (HDAC2) enzyme to interfere with the communication between brain cells.

Previously, scientists failed to target HDAC2because the drugs that were used also impeded other roles of the enzyme, causing toxic side effects.

The new research has shown that blocking a molecule called sp3 that binds to HDAC2 might effectively stop them both from disrupting the communication between brain cells that is crucial for memory.

"If we can remove the blockade by inhibiting HDAC2 activity or reducing HDAC2 levels," explains Seniorauthor Prof. Li-Huei Tsai, director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, "then we can remove the blockade and restore expression of all these genes necessary for learning and memory."

For over a decade, Prof. Tsai has been researching the role that enzymes called HDACs play in memory loss. In2007, she discovered that blocking HDAC activity in mice could reverse memory loss. There are around a dozen types of HDAC in humans.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting around 850,000 people in the UK. This neurodegenerative disease gradually diminishes a person’s ability to remember, think, reason, and make decisions.

There is no cure for thedisease and scientists do not know the causes of the disease. It is more common among people over 60 years, but it can affect younger people as well.
The new study focuses on the disruption of a process called synaptic plasticity, which is thought to be crucial for memory and learning.

Research has revealed that synapses – the connections between brain cells – are "plastic" and are not fixed as the soldered joints in electronic circuits.

Scientists define synaptic plasticity as a biological process whereby synapses change over time, depending on specific patterns of activity.

Scientists previously tested compounds that inhibit HDAC2, but most these produced side effects, such as interfering with HDAC1. HDAC1 is crucial for cell proliferation, especially in red and white blood cells.

Alzheimers memory loss reversed by blocking HDAC2

Therefore, in this new study, Prof. Tsai and his team sought to find a way to target only the HDAC2 activity that impedes memory. The team searched for proteins that help the enzyme to bind to the relevant genes.

To find the diabolical pairing, the researchers examined the expression of genes in postmortem brain samples taken from people who didn’t have Alzheimer’s.

Of these samples some brains had high and some had low levels of HDAC2, which helped the researchers to identify more than 2,000 genes that might be involved with HDAC2 activity.

Next, a technique called gene knockdown was used to prevent the expression of HDAC2 and other genes in mice. This narrowed down the search to a gene that made the protein Sp3.

Fragments of HDAC2 were used to connect with Sp3 in the mice. This effectively mopped up the proteins and prevented them from forming a complex with complete HDAC2 enzymes.

This clean-up was useful and it helped restore mice’s nerve functions, providing evidence that the enzyme and its helper were both required to latch onto the histones and DNA and prevent them from working.

The study was published in the journal Cell Reports.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Does Memory Loss Always Mean Dementia?

Does memory loss mean dementia

Dementia or senility isn’t a specific disease. Instead, it is a broad category of symptoms that affect the brain and causes memory loss. The loss of memory affects social abilities and cognitive skills that are severe enough to interfere with daily life.

The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60%-80% of all dementia cases. Other common types of dementia include vascular dementia – accounting for 25%, Lewy body dementia – accounting for 15% and frontotemporal dementia. A person can be affected by more than one type of dementia.

Every 3 seconds, someone in the world develops dementia. There were an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2015 and this number is believed to be close to 50 million people in 2017. 5.2% of people over the age of 60 are living with dementia globally. The number of people with dementia will almost double every 20 years, reaching 75 million in 2030 and 131.5 million in 2050. Developing countries will see much of theincrease. Currently, around 58% of people with dementia live in low- and middle-income countries, but this will rise to 68% by 2050. The fastest growth in the elderly population is taking place in China, India, and their south Asian and western Pacific neighbors.

There are about 5.7 million people of all ages are affected with Alzheimer’s disease in the USA. Almost two thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.

According to Alzheimer’s Society, UK, an estimated 850,000 people are affected by dementia in the UK, with the number expected to rise to over 1 million by 2025. It is expected that 225,000 people will develop dementia this year that is 1 person every 3 minutes.

Does Memory Loss Mean A Person Has Dementia?

Although loss of memory usually occurs in dementia, loss of memory alone does not mean a person has dementia. People lose some degree of memory as they get older. Naturally occurring memory loss isn’t considered dementia. At least 2 of thefollowing cognitive functions must be significantly damaged to be considered dementia:

  1. Loss of memory
  2. Problem communicating or understanding language
  3. Inability to focus
  4. Inability to make decisions or judgments
  5. Lack of visual perception

Does memory loss mean dementia

What are the Types of Dementia?

The different types of dementia include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease. It is the most common for of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. Alzheimer’s causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.
  • Vascular dementia. It is the second most common type of dementia, which occurs after a stroke.
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB). It is a form of progressive dementia that leads to a decline in thinking, reasoning and independent function due to abnormal microscopic deposits that damage brain cells over time.
  • Parkinson’s disease dementia. It is a cognitive impairment that ultimately affects many people with Parkinson's disease.
  • Mixed dementia. In this type of dementia, abnormal characteristics of more than one type of dementia occur simultaneously.
  • Frontotemporal dementia (FTD). It is a group of disorders caused by progressive nerve cell loss in the brain's frontal lobes (the areas behind the forehead) or its temporal lobes (the regions behind the ears).
  • Huntington’s disease. It is a progressive brain disorder caused by a defective gene. This disease causes changes in the central area of the brain, which affect movement, mood and thinking skills.
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). It is the most common human form of a group of rare, fatal brain disorders known as prion diseases.
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). It is a brain disorder in which excess cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain's ventricle, causing thinking and reasoning problems, difficulty walking, and loss of bladder control.
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. It is a chronic memory disorder caused by severe deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B-1). Korsakoff syndrome is most commonly caused by alcohol misuse, but certain other conditions also can cause the syndrome.
  • Posterior cortical atrophy (PCA). It is the gradual and progressive degeneration of the outer layer of the brain (the cortex) in the part of the brain located in the back of the head (posterior).

Are there Warning Signs One Should Watch Out For?

Does memory loss mean dementia

What Are the Stages of Dementia?

Dementia may have several stages such as, mild, moderate or severe. A dementia patient may fall into 2 different stages at once. Progression of a patient’s condition cannot be determined by the stages of dementia. A patient may remain in a particular stage for a few months or a several years. Progression of the disease varies in patient to patient.

What Are the Causes of Dementia?

Death of the nerve cells in the brain causes dementia. Dementia may be caused by head injury, stroke or a brain tumor. Since, death of brain cells may occur in different parts of the brain, dementia’s affect on people may vary from person to person.

What Are the Signs and symptoms of Dementia?

Dementia, in its early stage may have signs like forgetting things, difficulty performing tasks that were previously done without effort, losing common items such as keys, glasses etc. Difficulty learning new things is a very common early sign of dementia. Many Alzheimer’s patients or patients with other forms of dementia are unaware about their problems. The behavioral changes become evident with the progression of the disease. Patients fail to perform simple tasks, such as putting on clothes or going to the bathroom. Some patients may forget their phone numbers, addresses or their date of birth. They may be unaware about their surrounding environment. Some patients may forget to take their food, which may lead to marked weight loss. At the late stages of dementia, patients often cannot recognize their friends or family members. They lose their ability to communicate effectively. They become unable to care for themselves and need help of others to perform daily activities. As the disease progresses, patients start to forget how to walk or how to get up from a chair.

Does memory loss mean dementia

Can Dementia Be Reversed?

Doctors may identify the causes of certain dementia, therefore conditions can be reversed with proper treatment.
  • When dementia-like conditions occur from fever or other infections such as meningitis, encephalitis, syphilis, Lyme disease. Dementia from immune disorders such as leukemia and multiple sclerosis can also be reversed.
  • Dementia from metabolic problems and abnormalities of endocrine.
  • When nutritional deficiencies cause dementia.
  • When dementia is caused by poisoning.
  • Subdural hematomas
  • Rarely, brain tumors can cause dementia
  • Reactions to medication