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Archive for July, 2008

The 2008 International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease (ICAD) is under way in Chicago. Organized by the Alzheimer’s Association, the event has brought together over 5,000 researchers from around the world to report on current advances in Alzheimer’s research, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

 

The presentations on 27 July 2008 included reports on the latest MRI Technologies. In one study at the Roberts Research Institute and University of Western Ontario in Canada, Scientists customized a clinical strength MRI Scanner to detect amyloid plaques in live rabbits showing Alzheimer’s disease pathology. This is significant because in the past, only high-powered MRIs and PET Scanners with Chemical Markers have been able to do this. Conventional MRI Scanners like the one used in the present study are more affordable and available; they also do not expose the subject to radiation like some other methods.

 

In addition to this study, two other ICAD presentations focused on improvements in MRI Technology.

 

This is exciting because better imaging procedures could mean earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia, perhaps even before symptoms appear.

 

(Source:  http://alzheimers.about.com/b/a/000105.htm?nl=1)

 

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If you’ve ever experienced senior moments — a nonmedical term for mental glitches — you’re not alone.

 

A few years ago, I was buying groceries and had just swiped my debit card. The machine asked me for my PIN, which I had entered hundreds of times before, and I froze. I couldn’t remember it for the life of me. As the cashier peered at me as if I was a possible identify thief, I quickly cancelled the transaction and switched to a credit card that required no PIN.

 

My grandmother died of Alzheimer’s disease. So did her mother. My father is 70 and shows no signs of the disease, but his mother and grandmother didn’t develop it until their late 80s. We don’t know yet whether the disease will strike three or more generations in a row.

 

Even though I was in my mid-30s when I blanked on my debit PIN, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something really wrong with me. I guess I was too young to call what happened a senior moment, but in reality, that’s all it was.

 

I was sleep-deprived and stressed that day — two things that can bring on those dreaded senior moments. A few weeks later, I returned to the store, but this time I was calm and rested. I remembered my PIN without a hitch.

 

Over time, the brain often experiences some normal age-related memory loss. This happens for many reasons, such as decreases in neurotransmitters and brain size, which can make it harder to pay attention and process information. People with normal age-related memory loss, though, are usually able to compensate for these changes by using lists and other memory aids. In other words, the senior moments don’t generally impair daily functioning.

 

A common type of senior moment does have a scientific name: literal paraphasia. This is when we mix up similar words, such as “here” and “hear.” Temporarily forgetting names, phone numbers or why you went upstairs (“What was I going to get?”) are also common senior moments.

 

When senior moments make it hard to manage daily affairs, they may be early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. If you think your senior moments go beyond the realm of minor annoyances and occasional slips, be sure to see a doctor so your symptoms can be evaluated. There could be many causes for your symptoms, but the only way to find out what’s happening is to have a thorough diagnostic workup.

 

What’s troubling is that it’s hard to know whether senior moments will never progress beyond what’s normal or whether the senior moments are the beginning of something worse. There’s also the possibility that those senior moments are signs of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a middle ground between normal age-related memory loss and dementia. That’s why it’s important to make note of senior moments over time and also ask others to tell you if they’ve noticed that the moments are becoming more frequent.

 

Our fast-paced society probably increases the chances of having senior moments. Multitasking makes it harder to retain facts, because we’re not giving any one piece of information our undivided attention. Also, the fatigue and stress that many of us experience because we’re overworked, reduce our ability to concentrate and pay attention to details.

 

Here are some tips to reduce the incidence of senior moments:

 

·       Do one thing at a time.

·       Notice how things look, smell, taste and feel, as well as what’s happening, in order to remember something in multiple ways.

·       Replay memories in your mind to reinforce them.

·       Get enough sleep.

·       Learn stress management techniques.

·       Reduce mental clutter by using calendars, lists and gadgets such as personal digital assistants (PDAs)

 

Senior moments can be scary, but most of the time they’re just a result of the brain’s normal aging process. Unless they’re interfering with your ability to manage day-to-day activities, a few lifestyle changes should help you turn your senior moments into just occasional annoyances.

 

(Source:  http://alzheimers.about.com/od/symptomsofalzheimers/a/seniormoments.htm?nl=1)

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OUR CHARACTER IS SHOWN BY …

 

The jokes we CHOOSE to share…and not to share.

The derogatory terms we CHOOSE to use…and refuse to use.

The promises we CHOOSE to break…and the ones we keep.

The rumours we CHOOSE to spread…and those we ignore.

The resources we CHOOSE to waste…and those we use wisely.

The lies we CHOOSE to tell…and not to tell.

The responsibilities we CHOOSE to accept…and those we shirk.

The courtesies we CHOOSE to extend…and fail to extend.

The efforts we CHOOSE to put forth…and not put forth.

The quality we CHOOSE to provide…and the corners we cut.

The information we CHOOSE to share…and that which we hoard.

The listening we CHOOSE to do and not do.

The respect we CHOOSE to give…and fail to give.

The helpful hands we CHOOSE to extend…and those we keep in our pockets.

(source: www.walkthetalk.com) 

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Scientists have found further evidence that taking commonly used cholesterol- lowering statins may protect against dementia and memory loss.

(Source:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7524816.stm)

The study, published in Neurology, found that statins – normally taken to reduce heart disease risk – may cut the risk of dementia by half.

The five-year project examined 1,674 Mexican Americans aged 60 and over at heightened risk of dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Research Trust said the research is “encouraging”.

A quarter of the patients took a statin, and in total 130 went on to develop dementia.

the researchers had taken account of other risk factors, including education, smoking, and diabetes, they calculated that those who took statins had an approximately 50% lower risk of developing dementia.

The study comes hot on the heels of separate research which suggests that drugs to reduce blood pressure can also cut the risk of dementia.

It is estimated that 4 million people in England and Wales alone currently take statins.

Lead researcher Professor Mary Haan, of the University of Michigan, said: “The bottom line is that if a person takes statins over a course of about five to seven years, it reduces the risk of dementia by half, and that’s a really big change.”

Statins help to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of cholesterol which clog up the blood vessels.

It is thought that a poor supply of blood to the brain may be one factor which promotes the development of dementia.

Therefore, if statins help keep the blood vessels healthy, and blood flowing freely to the brain, they may help protect against the disease.

However, it is still not clear exactly how statins work on the biochemical pathways involved in dementia.

Professor Haan said one possibility is that statins may help to reduce levels of the hormone insulin, which have also been implicated in the development of dementia.

‘Encouraging’ results

Rebecca Wood, of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, described the research as “encouraging”.

However, she said: “People should not take statins unless medically advised to do as, as side-effects can be unpleasant.

“We need much more research into this possible prevention for dementia.”

Dr Clive Ballard, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said statins were increasingly being touted as a potential cure for dementia.

He said: “The jury is still out on how effective they are, but this study adds to growing evidence that they may have some benefits.

“All drugs have some side-effects so it is important to seek professional advice about medication.”

It is estimated that 700,000 people in the UK live with Alzheimers’. The number is expected to double within a generation as the average age of the population rises.

 

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Being single when you reach middle age could mean more than having the house to yourself – it could increase your risk of dementia.

 

Swedish research, presented at a US conference, found that marriage or having a partner halved the risk of developing dementia.

 

Scientists believe social interaction between couples may ward off illness.

 

The Alzheimer’s Research Trust said the results were worrying, given the high divorce rates in the UK.

 

“This study points to the beneficial effects of a married life.”

 

Rebecca Wood, from the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said that more research along these lines was urgently needed.

 

“These findings are particularly worrying for the UK – a society with a high divorce rate, marriage at an all-time low, and ageing population.

 

“This is the first study of its kind to examine the link between midlife marital status and dementia, adding to previous research suggesting that social interaction reduces dementia risk.”

 

However, Susanne Sorenson, from the Alzheimer’s Society, had some words of cheer for partnerless people.

 

She said: “Singletons shouldn’t worry – there are many other ways to reduce your risk of dementia that don’t involve popping the question.”

 

“The best evidence is around eating a Mediterranean diet, exercising regularly and not smoking.”

She also said that the findings were consistent with other research showing social interaction could be beneficial.

 

She added: “Whether it’s reaching for the vacuum cleaner or going for long romantic walks, lifestyle factors associated with being married may also help.”

 

(Source:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7530867.stm)

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UK scientists have developed a drug which may halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease

 

Trials of the drug, known as Rember, in 321 patients showed an 81% difference in rate of mental decline compared with those not taking the treatment.

 

The Aberdeen University Researchers said the drug targeted the build-up of a specific protein in the brain.

 

Alzheimer’s Experts were optimistic about the results, but said larger trials were now needed.

 

Presenting the results at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease, Professor Claude Wischik said the drug may be on the market by 2012.

 

Patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease were given either 30, 60 or 100mg of the drug or a placebo.

 

The 60mg dose produced the most pronounced effect – over 50 weeks there was a seven-point difference on a scale used to measure severity of dementia.

 

At 19 months there was no significant decline in mental function in patients taking the drug, the Researchers said.

 

Imaging data also suggests the drug may be having its biggest effect in the parts of the brain responsible for memory.

 

The link between clumps or “tangles” of protein inside nerve cells in the brain and Alzheimer’s disease was first made over 100 years ago.

 

Later shown to be made up of a protein called Tau, the tangles build up inside cells involved in memory, destroying them in the process.

 

Rember, or methylthioninium chloride, is the first treatment specifically designed to target the Tau tangles.

 

Other treatments for Alzheimer’s tend to focus on combating a waste protein in the brain, beta-amyloid, which is known to form hard plaques. The latest work suggests targeting Tau may produce better results.

 

Methylthioninium chloride is more commonly used as a blue dye in laboratory experiments.

 

Professor Wischik discovered it by accident 20 years ago, when a drop in a test tube led to the disappearance of the Tau protein he had been working on.

 

“We have demonstrated for the first time that it may be possible to arrest the progression of this disease by targeting the tangles which are highly correlated with the disease,” he said.

 

“We did an analysis of the effect size at 24 weeks and at 50 weeks compared to the average effect size of the current treatments and it was about two and a half times better,” he added.

 

Larger trials of the drug are planned to start in 2009, and researchers are also investigating whether the drug has a role in prevention of the disease in the first place.

 

Professor Clive Ballard, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This is a major new development in the fight against dementia.”

 

“It is the first realistic evidence that a new drug can improve cognition in people with Alzheimer’s by targeting the protein tangles that cause brain cell death.”

 

“This first modestly sized trial in humans is potentially exciting.”

 

“It suggests the drug could be over twice as effective as any treatment that is currently available.”

 

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said: “In this exploratory trial, rember reduced the decline in blood flow to parts of the brain that are important for memory.”

 

“This bodes well but we need more human trials to assess the treatment’s possible side effects.”

 

She added the fact the trial was funded by a pharmaceutical company highlighted the lack of funding for Alzheimer’s research in the UK.

 

(Source:  http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7525115.stm) 

 

 

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It is great to be well aware of what you can do.

And it’s even better to also acknowledge & accept of what you can’t do.

By Ralph Marston

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