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Lithium May Help Prevent or Slow Alzheimers

April 30, 2011 Comments off

News Medical reports this article by Dr Ananya Mandal, MD – click here

According to scientists Alzheimer’s disease, a progressively damaging motor neuron condition, could be treated by lithium, a naturally occurring element that is extremely inexpensive and already in use for other psychiatric disorders.

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Rewind: Alzheimer’s Disease Will Claim One in Eight Baby Boomers

April 14, 2011 Comments off

My regular readers know my mom is in the early stages of Alzheimers and my grandmother, her mother, also had the disease. It is critical that we continue private and government funded research to help develop therapies. It is also one more reason Medicare and Medicaid should be strengthened and not privatized. I would be more that willing to pay a few dollars more per month to support these programs.

March 18 (Bloomberg) — Alzheimer’s disease will claim about one in eight baby boomers in their lifetime, or about 10 million Americans, a new report suggests.

Medicare spending for Alzheimer’s will jump to $38 billion in 2025, when those born between 1946 and 1964 start to reach the median age for nursing home admission, according to the Chicago-based Alzheimer’s Association, which releases its yearly report today. That compares with a Medicare outlay of about $21 billion in 2005, the group said.

Unless new treatments are developed, the time and out-of- pocket costs for family caregivers will increase as well, the group said. Karen Holland, whose husband Edward doesn’t always remember who she is, said she knows how confusing it’s been for him, and difficult for her. Holland, born in 1947, says her fellow baby boomers aren’t ready for what’s coming.

“I think that in baby boomers, there’s a lot of denial,” said Holland, who works at the association’s New York City chapter. “It’s the same problem with people not wanting to do wills because you don’t want to think about that.”

Holland and others say more research is needed on the condition, and that families should prepare themselves better as her generation gets older. The report said 7.7 million people will have Alzheimer’s by 2030, a 48 percent rise from 2008, and lists the prevalence of the disease by state, the number of caregivers, the hours of unpaid work watching patients and the costs of health care for Alzheimer’s patients.

By 2010, Alaska and Colorado will record a 47 percent rise in cases from 2000, the biggest jump among states, the report said. Wyoming is next with a 43 percent rise.

Read entire Bloomberg article, click here

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Alzheimers: New Study Reveals Strong Genetic Link

April 3, 2011 Comments off

I will be getting this test as soon as possible or when available as my mother and her mother has this dreaded disease.

NY Times reports: Researchers say the studies, which analyzed the genes of more than 50,000 people in the United States and Europe, leave little doubt that the five genes make the disease more likely in the elderly and have something important to reveal about the disease’s process.

“The level of evidence is very, very strong,” said Dr. Michael Boehnke, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Michigan and an outside adviser on the research. The two studies are being published Monday in the journal Nature Genetics.

By themselves, the new genes are not nearly as important a factor as APOE, a gene discovered in 1995 that greatly increases risk for the disease: by 400 percent if a person inherits a copy from one parent, by 1,000 percent if from both parents.

In contrast, each of the new genes increases risk by no more than 10 to 15 percent; for that reason, they will not be used to decide if a person is likely to develop Alzheimer’s. APOE, which is involved in metabolizing cholesterol, “is in a class of its own,” said Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, a neurology professor at Harvard Medical School and an author of one of the papers.

But researchers say that for understanding the disease and developing new therapies, a slight increase in risk is more than sufficient. And like APOE, some of the newly discovered genes appear to be involved with cholesterol. Others are linked to inflammation or the transport of molecules inside cells.

For years , there have been unproven but persistent hints that cholesterol and inflammation are part of the disease process. People with high cholesterol are more likely to get the disease. Strokes and head injuries, which make Alzheimer’s more likely, also cause brain inflammation.

The new discoveries double the number of genes known to be involved in Alzheimer’s, to 10 from 5. One of the papers’ 155 authors, Dr. Richard Mayeux, chairman of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center, said the findings would “open up the field.”

Read entire article, click here

Alzheimers: Crossing the Threshold

March 24, 2011 Comments off

Like Elizabeth Taylor, my mom has congestive heart failure. The failure is a condition of the left ventricle of the heart not pumping out blood sufficiently. It leads to all kinds of complications and eventual death. I went in last week to get a baseline echo-cardiogram and will see my doctor later today to discuss the results. What Elizabeth Taylor and my mom did not share was dementia and alzheimers disease – a disease I have written about here many times as my mom and her mother both have/had this terrible disease.

My last visit with my mom last week was a defining moment. Upon entering her room I gave her my usual smile and greeting. She looked at me as though I was a stranger. No smile. No recognition. There was a brief pause and then she said, ” Am I supposed to know you?” The visit this time was different. The tone was lacking. The connection between us impaired. She has crossed the threshold into a place I cannot go. I have become part of the background of her life of caretakers coming and going. Her personal boundaries have tightened over the past year and I have not been able to hug her for quite some time. I am at a place where I want to tell the one person who would understand my pain and what I am going through — except that one person is no longer available and is the person this awful thing is happening to.

I communicate with my mom through a writing pad as she is deaf. She can reply and often cognizant and this works on a basic level. Just a note on this subject. My mom could hear from her left ear when she was placed in the nursing home in November 2009. I have urged the nursing home staff to clean and clear her ear regularly. But that seems to have not happened. I have requested a hearing aid be provided for here over the course of a year — Medicaid pays for the aid, we pay for the test. That has not happened either. I have advised friends of mine who have a parent in a nursing home to be vigilant as to the quality of care provided. It is imperative that relatives be strong advocates for their loved one. If this is you, I can only say this — do what you know is right. Insist on what you want to happen within the parameters of care covered. Accept nothing less.

Breakthrough: Alzheimers and the Liver

March 14, 2011 Comments off

My mother and her grandmother suffer from dementia. I make regular postings about Alzheimers research as it is estimated 1 in 5 Baby Boomers will develop Alzheimers.

ScienceDaily (Mar. 3, 2011) — Unexpected results from a Scripps Research Institute and ModGene, LLC study could completely alter scientists’ ideas about Alzheimer’s disease — pointing to the liver instead of the brain as the source of the “amyloid” that deposits as brain plaques associated with this devastating condition. The findings could offer a relatively simple approach for Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment.

The study was published online March 3 in The Journal of Neuroscience Research.

In the study, the scientists used a mouse model for Alzheimer’s disease to identify genes that influence the amount of amyloid that accumulates in the brain. They found three genes that protected mice from brain amyloid accumulation and deposition. For each gene, lower expression in the liver protected the mouse brain. One of the genes encodes presenilin — a cell membrane protein believed to contribute to the development of human Alzheimer’s.

“This unexpected finding holds promise for the development of new therapies to fight Alzheimer’s,” said Scripps Research Professor Greg Sutcliffe, who led the study. “This could greatly simplify the challenge of developing therapies and prevention.”

An estimated 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, including nearly half of people age 85 and older. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and over with this disease will range from 11 million to 16 million unless science finds a way to prevent or effectively treat it. In addition to the human misery caused by the disease, there is the unfathomable cost. A new report from the Alzheimer’s Association shows that in the absence of disease-modifying treatments, the cumulative costs of care for people with Alzheimer’s from 2010 to 2050 will exceed $20 trillion.

Entire article, click here

New Study: Simple Walking Can Do Wonders for the Brain

February 8, 2011 Comments off


I have read many articles on the brain. I had an interest at a very young age after reading Isaac Asimov’s book, The Human Brain, It’s Capacities and Functions. I still have my beatup copy. My mother has dementia as did her mother and I have taken even greater interest in brain function and health over the last ten years as I am now in my fifties. I take vitamin B-12 and Juvenon to keep me sharp. I play Stratego online. I read constantly all varieties of media, content, and subject matter. I have kept my mind so busy I have developed insomnia. Meditation is a natural way to bring some peace to the brain, but after some tests last weak I find I have borderline cholesterol and blood sugar. If left as is, it will develop into heart disease and diabetes. I have a family history of both and both lend to dementia and brain impairment. The bottom line is: reduce calories, eat a heart healthy diet and keep moving. Walking is great to rev up your system and save your brain. This story I read in the NY Times today was of interest and worth sharing.

NY Times reports: In healthy adults, the hippocampus — a part of the brain important to the formation of memories — begins to atrophy around 55 or 60. Now psychologists are suggesting that the hippocampus can be modestly expanded, and memory improved, by nothing more than regular walking.

In a study published on Jan. 31 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers randomly assigned 120 healthy but sedentary men and women (average age mid-60s) to one of two exercise groups. One group walked around a track three times a week, building up to 40 minutes at a stretch; the other did a variety of less aerobic exercises, including yoga and resistance training with bands.

After a year, brain scans showed that among the walkers, the hippocampus had increased in volume by about 2 percent on average; in the others, it had declined by about 1.4 percent. Since such a decline is normal in older adults, “a 2 percent increase is fairly significant,” said the lead author, Kirk Erickson, a psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh. Both groups also improved on a test of spatial memory, but the walkers improved more.

Alzheimers 2010 Report: $600 Million a Year and Growing

February 6, 2011 Comments off

Alzheimers 2010 Report available here:
World_Alzheimer_Report_2010

New York Times reports:

THE first of about 76 million baby boomers in the United States turned 65 in January. They are looking forward to a life expectancy that is higher than that of any previous generation.

The number of people 65 and older is expected to more than double worldwide, to about 1.5 billion by 2050 from 523 million last year, according to estimates from the United Nations. That means people 65 and over will soon outnumber children under 5 for the first time ever. As a consequence, many people may have to defer their retirement — or never entirely retire — in order to maintain sustainable incomes.

Many economists view such an exploding population of seventy- and eighty-somethings not as an asset, but as a looming budget crisis. After all, by one estimate, treating dementia worldwide already costs more than $600 billion annually.

“No other force is likely to shape the future of national economic health, public finances and policy making,” analysts at Standard & Poor’s wrote in a recent report, “as the irreversible rate at which the world’s population is aging.”

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