Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s disease

The Risk for Alzheimer’s disease, in Our Control or Not?

alzheimer generation

There are certain risk factors, such as family history, genetics, and age that are beyond our control, but there are some that can be mitigated with early intervention and maintenance. Let us examine the two sets of risk factors to better understand how we can take action to defend ourselves or loved ones from this devastating disease.

Risk factors that we cannot change are:

1. Age

The data shows us that age is a significant factor in developing Alzheimer’s, but we do not fully understand why. Among those aged 85 or older, one in three were found to have the disease. Compare this to one in nine among those aged 65 or beyond.

2. Family history

Family history is a good predicator for many health conditions. If one of your parents or siblings has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s your chance for developing the disease is increased.

3. Genetics

Scientific study has found that genes play an integral part in Alzheimer’s. Genes that have a causal role in the disease fall into two categories: deterministic genes and risk genes. Let’s look at each type.
• Deterministic genes are the direct cause of developing a disease. Scientists have found three proteins where the genetic coding is deviant: presenilin-1 (PS-1), amyloid precursor protein (APP) and presenilin-2 (PS-2). Autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease (ADAD) is the name given to Alzheimer’s when one of these deterministic genes is the cause. It could impact several generations within a family and the symptoms usually appear before the patient reaches the age of 60. However, deterministic genes are found in a very few hundreds of families throughout the world.
• Risk genes may be present, but it does not mean that Alzheimer’s is guaranteed to develop. To date, several risk genes have been discovered by Alzheimer’s researchers: apolipoprotein E-e4 appears to have the greatest influence on developing the disease. The gene is present in approximately 20-25% of Alzheimer’s cases. There are two other configurations of the APOE gene, the other two being APOE-e2 and APOE-e3. It is important to remember that even if the gene is inherited from both parents, it does not mean that it is guaranteed you will develop Alzheimer’s. The APOE-e4 gene also seems to be responsible for earlier onset of Alzheimer’s.

alzheimers disease with two trees

Risk factors that we can impact:

There is nothing we can do to change our genetic makeup or family medical histories. What are some of the factors we can change?

1. Healthy aging

We cannot control the reality of aging, but we can impact how we age. There are many strategies to keep both our bodies and minds as young as possible. For instance diet, social interaction and exercising both your body and mind. There are many mind exercises available in bookstores, on the internet, or through Alzheimer’s websites.

2. Head injury

Scientists believe there may be a link between head trauma and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. This is especially true should there be repeated episodes of serious injury to the head. Be careful to always wear a helmet when biking, buckle up no matter how far you are going in your car and install safe surfaces around your home to avoid slipping and falling.

3. Healthy heart, healthy brain

Studies have proven that the health of your heart impacts the health of your brain. Your brain receives vital nutrients through the blood vessels. Should there be any blockages or complications within the vast network of your blood vessels, such as from high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or heart disease, the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain will be severely diminished, resulting in damage to the brain’s vessels, and increasing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. If you have any of these conditions it is very important to maintain a regular check-up schedule.


10 Warning Signs that You or a Loved One May be Developing Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disease that severely impairs cognitive functioning. It is the sixth leading cause of mortality in America. While there are many new and emerging treatment protocols available today, the best approach is to catch Alzheimer’s before it fully develops, when drug treatments have their greatest chance for reversing or stemming the progression of the disease.signs

Here are ten common warning signs that should alert you to the possibility that you or someone you love may be developing Alzheimer’s. If they sound familiar to you, please make an appointment to see your healthcare professional as soon as possible.

1. Confusion.

As we get older, it is not unusual to lose track of which day of the week it is, or whether we did something yesterday or the day before. However, if your confusion is more pronounced, such as not knowing where you are or how you arrived at this place, this is more symptomatic of early stages of Alzheimer’s.

2. Forgetfulness.

Memory loss also comes with aging. Perhaps you might forget someone’s name when you see them in the grocery store, but after thinking about it the name comes to you. A person in the early stages of Alzheimer’s loses their ability to recall information. This is especially true of short-term memory. They may not be able to retain new information or must rely on reminder tools, such as sticky notes or family members for even the simplest tasks, appointments, and special events. If you or your family member never had problems keeping track of a busy life in the past, then this is a good sign of Alzheimer’s.


3. Impaired problem-solving abilities.

With Alzheimer’s you will find that you cannot formulate a strategy for dealing with certain situations, follow simple directions, such as a recipe, or handle mathematical tasks, such as tracking your bills or balancing your checkbook.

4. Difficulties with communicating.

It is not unusual to struggle with finding the right word we want to use to get across a certain point. A person with early stages of Alzheimer’s will find it difficult to follow a conversation, to know how to join in, or will begin speaking about something, and then leave the thought unfinished.


5. Withdrawal.

If you see that someone you love is slowly withdrawing from all their favorite activities, social circles and friends, this could be an indicator of Alzheimer’s.

6. Familiar tasks become difficult.

You or your loved one may find that the tasks you routinely performed at home or at work are now difficult for you. You may forget how to drive to work or some other familiar location or how to play your favorite game.

7. Mood changes.

It is true that as we age, we can sometimes become less patient or more irritable. A person developing Alzheimer’s though will display much more pronounced changes in mood, exhibiting fear, depression, confusion, anxiety with little warning, especially when outside of their comfort zone, such as in new surroundings or around new people.

8. Impaired ability to judge situations.

A person with Alzheimer’s may fail to employ critical decision-making skills to adequately assess situations, easily falling prey to scammers and telemarketers.

9. Vision problems.

Aging can bring vision issues, especially conditions such as cataracts. Alzheimer’s can impair a person’s spatial ability, or their ability to identify colors or even to read.

10. Losing track of personal items.

If a person with Alzheimer’s loses an item, they will not have the capacity to review in their mind all the places they were earlier in order to find it. While it is not usual as we age to forget where we placed something, usually with considerable thought, we can eventually remember where we left it.

New Alzheimer’s disease Study Finds That Treating Cognition Also Affects Function

In early December, Eli and Lily Company announced the results of two Phase 3 drug trials confirming that the decline in functionality experienced by Alzheimer’s patients is a consequence of cognitive failure. Furthermore, the study proved that any change in the functional abilities of Alzheimer’s patient’s is merely a by-product of the drug’s impact on cognitive function and not due to any direct effect from the drug therapies.

Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Cover

Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Cover

Utilizing the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study-Activities of Daily Living Scales and the Alzheimer’s Scale-Cognitive, researchers established that cognitive defects were more evident than deficiencies in functionality in patients with mild cases of Alzheimer’s disease, that the functional deficits were an end result of cognitive dysfunction and that this correlation increased over time. The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The findings are important to continued efforts to develop drug treatment therapies for Alzheimer’s patients. According to Dr. Hong Liu-Seifert, the data is important because it suggests that functional changes due to any drug therapy should be considered as secondary, with the focus remaining on cognitive deficits; the primary characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Liu-Seifert goes on to say that both cognition and function are important for the patient and their caregiver. The study results show that any positive treatment effect on cognition will initiate change in function.

Research data was combined from Phase 3 Expedition and Expedition2 trials that were evaluating the effect of drug treatments on cognition and function. The study ascertained that if there was an improvement in function it was because of the drug’s impact on cognition. In actuality, a very small portion of the study, only 13% saw change in function, whereas 87% saw change in cognition from the drug therapies. A reverse analysis demonstrated that any effect on cognition was principally due to the direct effect of the drug therapies and a small percentage (37%) driven by the drug’s effect on function.

Reelin Protein: Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment? An Article By Emma Henson

ImageResearchers from the Department of Cell Biology at the University of Barcelona published a study in Nature Connections, on ReelinThis protein is crucial to adult brain plasticity, and it has been found to recover cognitive functions in mice with Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative disease characterized by cognitive defects, synaptic loss, and neuronal death, is mainly associated with the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and the presence of neurofibrillary tangles.  This new study demonstrates that an increase in Reelin brain levels helps avoid cognitive decline in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease.  Reelin also delays amyloid-beta fibril formation in vitro, and reduces amyloid deposits in mice.

Instead of focusing efforts on therapeutic targets directed toward a certain processes within Alzheimer’s, the scientists analyzed Reelin’s dual pathway that regulates the amyloid precursor protein and tau protein.  Though researchers previously understood that Reelin played a part in a double regulating pathway of both amyloid beta and tau protein, it was difficult to pinpoint its exact role.  The study sheds light on a new mechanism that allows understanding of the link between these two crucial parts of Alzheimer’s disease, and also proves that Reelin overexpression may be beneficial.


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