Tag Archives: alzheimer’s disease

Stunning Results: Ten Early Stage Alzheimer’s Patients Recover Memory and Cognitive Functioning

A 69 year old entrepreneur has been suffering from increasing memory loss over the last 11 years, to a point where he was contemplating closing down his business. After six months on a 36-point plan, called metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration, he began to once again recognize faces, remember his daily schedule, and was able to compute numbers in his head. After a further 16 months on the program, his long-term memory improved to the 84th percentile, and not only does he intend to keep his business open but he has plans for expansion.Doctor examines a patient's tomography

Memory loss in early stage Alzheimer’s patients can be reversed

A remarkable new study coming out of the Buck Institute for Research on the topic of aging is turning how we view Alzheimer’s disease on its head. Conducted in collaboration with the Eastern Laboratories for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at the University of California in Los Angeles, it provides the first evidence that decline in cognitive function and memory loss can be reversed, rocking the foundation of how Alzheimer’s disease is viewed. The study, titled “Reversal of Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer’s Disease”, was published earlier this month in the journal Aging.

APOE4 gene mutation can be overcome

The study included ten patients who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, or who were already exhibiting definable mild cognitive dysfunction. Of the ten subjects, nine were carriers of the mutated APOE4 gene, already identified as a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s. In five cases, both gene copies were mutated, placing these subjects at the highest level of risk. Previous research has shown that in the United States, 65 percent of all Alzheimer’s patients are carrying a mutated APOE4 gene, therefore to see such astonishing results in a research study group with these mutations is very exciting.

According to the study’s author Dr. Dale Bredesen, Professor at the Buck Institute and Easton Laboratories, these results mean that we should no longer ignore the APOE4 mutated gene, assuming it is a fait accompli whether the carrier will suffer from Alzheimer’s. Instead, he says, people should be tested for APOE4 mutation, and if present, placed on a prevention plan as soon as possible.

A 36-point personalized plan may be the key to returning to life

The 36-point plan, or metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration, includes a number of strategies that impact brain chemistry, such as vitamin supplements, exercise, changes in diet, improved sleep patterns, drugs and brain stimulation activities. The researchers note that this synergistic approach may also improve the efficacy of drug therapies.Elderly couple on seated couch

Another case cited in the new study is of a 66 year old man whose brain scans and neuropsychiatric examinations showed mild cognitive dysfunction. The hippocampus region of his brain, which is critical to learning and memory, was much smaller than normal for a person of his age. The hippocampus region experienced significant growth after 10 months on the 36-point, multi-disciplinary plan.

These remarkable results were not short-lived, as follow-up tests demonstrated that the return to normal cognitive functioning had not diminished.

Bredesen admits that this study involved a small number of patients and that it must be replicated on a larger scale. Nevertheless, the results are “unprecedented” and the improvements in cognitive functioning experienced by test subjects proves that the 36-point, multi-target approach can work.

Understanding Dementia and Dispelling the Confusion

Dementia is a word that has crept into our everyday vocabulary, but oftentimes it is misused. For instance, we may find ourselves in the middle of a conversation, and suddenly lose our train of thought, or be unable to remember a person’s name. We immediately jump to the conclusion that we are starting to suffer from dementia. However, with all the stress in today’s world, these events could merely be the result of information overload or too much stimulation. Therefore, it is important to understand what dementia is so that the appropriate steps can be taken to address it.

What is dementia?

Dimentia

Dementia, in and of itself, is not a disease. It is a term loosely used to refer to a decline in cognitive functioning—memory, critical thinking, or problem-solving. If the impairment is significant enough to limit your ability to function day to day, then you may be experiencing signs of dementia.
Dementia is not a necessary outgrowth of aging, as is often thought. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia and approximately 60-80 percent of patients with dementia are suffering from Alzheimer’s. Another category of dementia occurs after a stroke, known as Vascular Dementia.

What are the symptoms of dementia?

Dementia symptoms vary from person to person, but to be considered truly dementia, and not some other cognitive interference, at least two of the following outcomes must be present in a significant and constant way:
• Impaired visual perception
• Loss of memory
• Inability to judge and analyze situations
• Problem with communicating and using language
• Unable to focus and give attention to what is before you

Dementia progresses. Usually it begins with small memory losses, such as where you left your keys, or what you were thinking of preparing for dinner. It could be more serious, such as forgetting appointments, paying your bills or the directions to a frequent location. At this stage, an early diagnosis could prevent further deterioration, as well as discover a treatable disease that might be causing the dementia symptoms.

What causes dementia?

Dementia results when there is damage to the brain cells resulting in their inability to communicate. The brain is separated into regions, each one controlling certain physical and cognitive functions. Cells are constantly sending signals to each other, resulting in smooth functioning of the brain and body. When there is an impairment to the cells’ ability to transmit signals, thinking, memory, bodily functions or emotions can be impacted. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, causes an overproduction of certain proteins, which damage the cells’ ability to communicate, thus resulting in the dementia.

How is dementia diagnosed?

Unfortunately, there is not a single test that can be administered to diagnose the presence of dementia. A qualified physician will assess your family medical history, order laboratory tests, conduct a thorough physical exam and analyze your symptoms to arrive at a diagnosis of the type and severity of the dementia.

What can you do if you have been diagnosed with dementia?
Some dementia is treatable and even reversible, depending upon its cause. This is why early diagnosis is so important. Alzheimer’s dementia, however, is not reversible and to date, there are no medicines or treatments that can slow its progression. Significant medical research is ongoing to discover new therapies for Alzheimer’s and other serious dementias.

Can you lower your risk of developing dementia or prevent its onset?
There are some steps you can take to lower your risk of developing dementia, although nothing can completely negate particular risk factors that you may be carrying.
1. Exercise. Exercise causes increased blood flow to the brain which maintains brain cell health.
2. Cardiovascular health. Protect your cardiovascular system by not smoking, keeping your cholesterol level low and watching your weight.
3. Diet. Brain health is also impacted by what you eat. A diet low in fats and proteins, and high in fish, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and fruits, such as the Mediterranean diet, has proven to keep your brain and heart healthy.

Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented?

New Scientific Hypothesis Brings Hope of Killing Alzheimer’s

More than five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, a devastating neurological disease that robs patients of their memory and cognitive functioning. Finding a prevention tool has been on the wish list of scientists and treatment providers for decades.

Brain-Infecting Microbes: Old Theory Gets a New Lease of Life

Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented?

A soon to be published editorial in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease will re-open an old conversation as to the cause of Alzheimer’s. According to the editorial, signed by 31 scientists from around the world, the cause of the disease may be microbial infections in the brain, such as Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease, or Chlamydophila pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia. The experts’ theory is that when the APOE є4 gene variant, which is known to be an Alzheimer’s disease risk factor, is present — a microbial infection can cause debilitating damage to the brain. This theory, dismissed once before, is getting a new look, and if researchers are able to prove it, which will not be easy, then perhaps in the future there will be a way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Microbial Infections Vs. Amyloid Proteins and Tau Tangles

To date, researchers have been focusing on amyloid proteins and tau tangles, which have been proven to be causative agents in the brain cell death experienced by Alzheimer’s patients. While not dismissing the role of these factors, the aforementioned theory that has resurfaced, labeled ‘the pathogen hypothesis’, says that microbial infections are causing the tau tangles and buildup of amyloid proteins, resulting in the ensuing cell death. According to Dr. Brian Balin, Director of the Center for Chronic Disorders of Aging at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and co-author of the editorial in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, amyloid proteins play a part in the disease, but only in response to the initial inflammation caused by the microbial infection that is attacking the brain.

Senior Woman Memory Loss

Earlier Examinations of the Pathogen Theory Were Not Conclusive

The pathogen theory is not new. In 1979, a study was published in The Lancet, which reported that scientists at the University of Manchester examined patients carrying APOE є4 whose brains were infected with HSV-1. They found that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s was 12 times higher than when only the gene was present or when there was an infection. A 2010 study at Harvard University, headed by Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, Director of Massachusetts Hospital’s Genetics and Aging Research Center, found that amyloid protein seems to accumulate in response to infection. In research conducted since 2010, Dr. Tanzi has found that amyloid protein increases as a defense mechanism to protect the brain from the infection. One of the points of opposition, though, is that HSV-1 can also be found in the brains of healthy older people.

There Are Major Ramifications If the Theory Can Be Proven

If conclusive evidence can be found that microbial infections are a causative agent in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, it would dramatically alter the way we approach the disease. Instead of dealing with the consequences, patients could be given a vaccine against the infections.

How to Prove the Theory?

The major stumbling block to proving the theory is that it is not possible to determine if infections such as HSV-1 are present in the brain as long as the patient is still living. Only upon death and autopsy can the brain be examined for these microbial infections. It will require many more years of clinical trials to determine if the pathogen theory is valid. Nevertheless, researchers such as Dr. Balin and others believe it is more than worth it to continue with the research. They hope the upcoming editorial will give credence to their approach and also free up much needed funding.

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

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.

 alzheimer

 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.

Healthy aging

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.

The Truth about Alzheimer’s

the truth about alzheimer

 

Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurological disease. It is the most common form of dementia, whereby the brain cells degenerate, leading to loss of memory and other cognitive skills. Many of the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s are overlooked due to misinformation about the normal process of aging. For instance, it is not uncommon to hear someone associate their age with their inability to remember things. Unfortunately, this leads to the loss of vital time that could be used to begin treatment protocols that can slow down the progression of the disease.

Here are some common myths about Alzheimer’s.

1. Alzheimer’s disease will not kill you. Actually, Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. But beyond this, Alzheimer’s robs a person of all the elements of life, even if they are still breathing. Memory loss, loss of motor abilities, severe cognitive dysfunction, eating disorders, loss of ability to connect to others, all of these drastically reduce quality of life.

2. There are drugs today to prevent or stop Alzheimer’s. Not true. Considerable research is going into developing drug protocols, but at this time, FDA-approved therapies can, at the most, delay worsening of symptoms for up to a year. They have proven to be effective for approximately half of the patients subscribed.
3. Only old people get Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a neurological disease that is not restricted to age. People as young as 30 can exhibit symptoms of early stage Alzheimer’s. In fact of the estimated 5 million people in America with Alzheimer’s, 200,000 are under the age of 65.

4. Poor memory is a part of aging. It is true that as a person grows older, it CAN become more challenging to remember things, such as a person’s name, or the name of some city you once visited. In fact, these days, all of us struggle with recall due a vast amount of information overload. For a person with Alzheimer’s this inability to remember is much more pronounced and serious. With Alzheimer’s the brain cells that control memory slowly die, causing the patient to forget even his or her closest family members. They can become lost on the way home, forgetting a route taken for decades. It is very important to distinguish the type of memory loss you or a loved one may be experiencing as soon as possible through consultation with a qualified healthcare practitioner so that appropriate measures can be taken as quickly as possible.

grandmother
5. Artificial sweeteners cause Alzheimer’s. Aspartame, commonly known as Equal or Nutrasweet, have been the subject of many health concerns. However, in spite of hundreds of clinical trials and laboratory tests, no concrete evidence has emerged to link aspartame to Alzheimer’s.

6. Risk to Alzheimer’s is increased if you have silver dental fillings. The silver used in dental fillings contains about 50% mercury. Mercury can be toxic to organs and brain cells. Therefore, some have expressed a correlation between the presence of silver fillings and Alzheimer’s disease. But, to date there has been no proof of a link, in spite of substantial research into the matter undertaken by top research universities and national health institutions.

7. Aluminum can cause Alzheimer’s. A few decades ago, some thought there might be a connection between cooking in aluminum pots or drinking from aluminum cans and the onset of Alzheimer’s. But, like the dental fillings, no study was able to prove aluminum to be a causative factor in developing Alzheimer’s.

8. You can develop Alzheimer’s from flu shots. While there is some evidence to suggest that flu shots can cause certain ailments, there is no proof that the shot causes Alzheimer’s. In fact, two studies, one out of Canada in 2001 and the second reported in JAMA in 2004 suggest that being vaccinated against the flu may actually lower the risk to developing Alzheimer’s.

Is a Cure for Alzheimer’s on the Horizon?

Alzheimer’s disease impacts the entire world

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most serious afflictions of our generation. Current projections indicate that some form of dementia will strike approximately 50 million individuals around the world, and in the majority of cases, it will be Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s impacts not only the patient, but also family members who are strapped with the emotional and financial burden of caring for a loved one who may not even remember their name.

Is there any hope?

The serious consequences of Alzheimer’s disease has propelled numerous research efforts to seek better treatment therapies and ultimately a prevention tool. For instance, researchers currently at the Raskamp Institute began in the early 1990s to examine the role of a protein known as amyloid, which occurs naturally in the brain, but in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, there is an unhealthy build-up of it resulting in the destruction of brain cells. Researchers wanted to know if it was the amyloid itself that was causing Alzheimer’s. In their study, it was concluded that amyloid was a causative agent.

Drugs that target amyloid hold promise for prevention and better treatment

It appears that their findings have been confirmed. Biogen Idec developed and recently completed phase 2 trials on a drug named aducanumab that specifically targets amyloid. The newly released findings reveal that, after a year-long test of early stage Alzheimer’s patients, amyloid seems to cause Alzheimer’s. Two key aspects of the test must be kept in mind though: (1) test subjects were in the early stage of Alzheimer’s and (2) there are other causative factors, such as genetics, that play a role in the onset of Alzheimer’s. Nevertheless, the results give new hope to researchers developing drug treatments that target amyloid. Positive results from aducanumab also is good news for ongoing research at Roskamp Institute where nilvadipine, a drug developed by the Institute’s team of scientists, is ready to go to phase 3 trials in nine countries. This drug also targets the amyloid protein. Both trials hopefully will result in the necessary confirmation that drugs that attack amyloid might actually bring a universal end to the suffering of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease Patients May Soon Have Two New Drugs in Their Treatment Plan

Two new drugs, memantine and cholinesterase inhibitors, have recently been approved by the FDA for use in treating Alzheimer’s patients. Both drugs address the problem of cognitive dysfunction which is very significant in Alzheimer’s disease.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials are an approved and safe way to measure the safety and effectiveness of new drugs. Under this carefully monitored regiment, new drugs are introduced to patients and the outcomes can be measured in a controlled environment, noting their impact on the disease and patient. Clinical trials provide the only mechanism for developing new drug protocols and moving them to market, thereby coming closer and closer to disease prevention.

Average approach to Alzheimer’s disease therapy

Each Alzheimer’s patient receives an individualized treatment plan, depending upon the doctor’s recommendations following a careful assessment and measurement of relevant factors, such as:

• An overall health appraisal and collection of the patient’s medical history
• Measurement of the disease’s progression thus far
• Identifying what drug and treatment therapies are tolerable to the patient
• Assessing the patient’s prospects into the future
• The wishes of the patient or of his guardians

Cognitive function is seriously impacted by Alzheimer’s disease

One of the most serious and debilitating outcomes of Alzheimer’s is that the patient loses the ability to access memory and learn new concepts. This is due to brain cell death and the destruction of the synapses, the connectors, between cells which worsens as the disease advances. Medications available today on the market cannot reverse this damage caused to the cells and synapses. The best they can offer is a lessening of the symptoms and slight improvement in mental outlook of the patient.

Neurotransmitters are key to neuron communication

The two new drugs, cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine both act on neurotransmitters. In the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, neuron communication is hindered by damaged synapses. Cholinesterase inhibitors decelerate the process that is the cause of neurotransmitter damage. Memantine addresses glutamate, which when attached to the cell’s surface creates a condition whereby calcium is able to enter the cell. Alzheimer’s disease results in overproduction of glutamate, leading to higher levels of calcium and cell destruction. Memantine will limit the amount of calcium going into the cells.