Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Alzheimer's Reading Room
This development has wonderful implications for diagnosing Alzheimer's; it has far reaching implications for those predisposed by genetics to Alzheimer's disease.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School and Brain Sciences Center at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center have identified a way to diagnose Alzheimer's and other brain diseases. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG) and various mathematic algorithms, the researchers were able to identify and classify the brain disease in 142 research subjects that had been previously diagnosed. Magnetoencephalography is a non-invasive measurement of magnetic fields in the brain and the tests last between 45-60 seconds.
This study should be of particular interest to anyone that is genetically predisposed to Alzherimer's and other forms of Dementia.
Currently, brain diseases are diagnosed with behavioral exams, psychiatric interviews, and neuropsychological testing.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The Validation Breakthrough: Simple Techniques for Communicating with People with Alzheimer's Type Dementia
The case studies are invaluable and provide you with specific situations that you are sure to encounter.
I am convinced everyone involved with elderly parents suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's will benefit from reading this book.
You will certainly reduce stress by learning these techniques.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The majority of CareGivers I meet learn as they go. Sometimes they get ideas from others. I have yet to meet someone that actually attended a training program. There is little doubt that any caregiver would benefit from training. I believe I would and I have been caring for my mother for over 3 years.
Some states are trying new ways to increase Alzheimer's services. In Colorado, for example, officials experimented with giving $1,000 stipends to help families hire monitoring for their loved ones so they could attend a six-session training program called the Savvy Caregiver.
"When he approached him and asked if he was ok, he recognized the signature on his bracelet which is with the Safe Return program at the Alzheimer's Association, as far as I am concerned that saved his life."The Alzheimer's Association Medic Alert + Safe Return bracelet cost $50. The bracelet carries the name of the Alzheimer's person and a toll free number that can be called if the person is unable to provide their address or phone number. Current estimates indicate that sixty percent of persons suffering from Alzheimer's wander away and get lost. The bracelet is a great solution to this problem.
For more information on the bracelet, call the Association at 1-800-861-7826. Or, go to Safe Return on the Internet.
The article on the next page shows just how important the bracelet can be and illustrates its effectiveness.
Bracelet saves Boca Raton man with Alzheimer's
Lou Bigman is known as "Lucky Lou" at the Mae Volen Senior Center in Boca Raton.
Bigman participates in daily activities at the center.
Denise Parsons the Director of the adult day care says Wednesday afternoon once he got home with his wife, he got lost.
"He took his usual walk with his wife, she went into the house he took his walk alone and he didn't come home".
His wife called the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies started a search. A stranger found Bigman wandering around.
"When he approached him and asked if he was ok, he recognized the signature on his bracelet which is with the Safe Return program at the Alzheimer's Association, as far as I am concerned that saved his life."
The bracelet had Bigman's name on it, and a toll free number to call if the person wearing the bracelet had memory impairment.
Dottie Carson with the Alzheimer's Association says this incident, which had a happy ending, is a reminder that these bracelets could save many more people suffering from Alzheimer's.
"There are 200,000 people in the Southeast Florida chapter with Alzheimer's that is from Vero to the Keys and we only have 5,400 people with Safe Return bracelets."
Bigman's family is thankful for the bracelet and thankful deputies would not give up on the search.
Captain Matt Eisenberg with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office says it's nice the deputies were thanked for keeping up the search.
"We appreciate what they did by making sure that their family member did in fact have an Alzheimer's bracelet on."
The Alzheimer's Association says it cost $50.00 to get your loved one a "Safe Return" bracelet.
For more information, call the Association at 1-800-272-3900.
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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The Alzheimer's Reading Room is the number one website on the Internet for news, advice, and insight into Alzheimer's disease. Bob has written more than 800 articles with more than 18,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer's Reading Room
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
I am really looking forward to the release of There is a Bridge on PBS, September 1. The documentary is going to challenge conventional notions, sometimes unfounded, that Alzheimer's patients are "unreachable". The documentary is said to reveal different ways of communicating with those who have dementia and explores how these emotionally profound relationships can change our lives.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Florida Govenor Charlie Crist has instructed the Department of Elder Affairs to trim its budget by up to $20 million. Against this backdrop the Byrd Center could lose two thirds of the funding it gets from the State of Florida. If enacted the Center would be forced to lay off most of its staff and cut nearly all its research under proposed spending reductions. The Center says it could lose 50 of its 70 employees and all 12 of the clinical trials already being conducted there would likely be dropped.
There are an estimated 450,000 Alzheimer's patients residing in the State of Florida.
Interested parties are urged to contact their local state representatives and send emails direct to the Governor's office.
Neither Robert T DeMarco or anyone at the Alzheimer's Reading Room are associated with the Byrd Center, nor have we used any of their services.
Read more about this topic at Forbes.com.
Johnnie B. Byrd, Sr. Alzheimer's Center
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
“We used to think that Alzheimer’s disease was a problem with the production of too much amyloid-beta, but it’s become clear in recent years that the problem is with faulty clearance of amyloid-beta,” said Zlokovic, professor of Neurosurgery and Neurology and director of the Frank P. Smith Laboratory for Neuroscience and Neurosurgery Research.
You can read the complete release from the University of Rochester Medical Center on the next page.
Draining Away Brain’s Toxic Protein to Stop Alzheimer’s
Scientists are trying a plumber’s approach to rid the brain of the amyloid buildup that plagues Alzheimer’s patients: Simply drain the toxic protein away.
That’s the method outlined in a paper published online August 12 by Nature Medicine. Scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center show how the body’s natural way of ridding the body of the substance is flawed in people with the disease. Then the team demonstrated an experimental method in mice to fix the process, dramatically reducing the levels of the toxic protein in the brain and halting symptoms. The team is now working on developing a version of the protein that could be tested in people with the disease.
The approach doesn’t take direct aim at the pathology that is ubiquitous in the Alzheimer’s patients’ brains, where amyloid-beta forms a toxic plaque. Instead, researchers take an indirect approach, focusing not on the brain but rather on a protein that sops up amyloid-beta in the body, where it’s regarded as harmless. The scientists found that if they increase the body’s ability to soak up amyloid, the brain responds, causing levels of the substance in the brain – the real target – to plummet.
“There is a dynamic equilibrium between the levels of amyloid-beta in the blood and in the brain,” said neuroscientist Berislav Zlokovic, M.D., Ph.D., the leader of the team. “If we are able to lower the levels of amyloid-beta circulating in blood by sequestering more of it there, then the brain should follow and lower its levels too. This is exactly what we found.”
The team concentrated its efforts around a protein known as sLRP (soluble low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein). The team discovered that in healthy people, the protein binds to and neutralizes anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of the amyloid-beta that is circulating in the body.
The team also found that sLRP is doing only a fraction of the job in Alzheimer’s patients that it does in healthy people. Levels of sLRP in people with Alzheimer’s were about 30 percent lower than in healthy people, and the sLRP that was present was almost three times as likely to be damaged compared to the same protein in healthy people. As a result, the Alzheimer’s patients had on average three to four times as much loose, unbound amyloid-beta floating in their bloodstreams – high levels that would likely also be reflected in the brain.
Zlokovic’s group decided to try to reduce amyloid-beta levels in the body by synthesizing an altered, super-potent form of sLRP that binds amyloid-beta more efficiently than natural sLRP. In blood samples from patients with Alzheimer’s disease, the modified version of sLRP, known as LRP-IV, soaked up and virtually eliminated amyloid-beta. The compound had an even more dramatic effect in mice with features of Alzheimer’s disease: LRP-IV lowered the levels of amyloid-beta in their brains by 85 to 90 percent. The mice that received the compound also had improved learning and memory compared to mice that did not receive LRP-IV, and they had 65 percent more blood flow in their brains in response to brain stimulation – a flick of their whiskers.
The team is now working with a company created by Zlokovic, Socratech, to create a form of LRP-IV that could be tested in people. Zlokovic hopes to have such a product ready for testing within two years.
Zlokovic, a scientist widely recognized for demonstrating that blood vessels, blood flow, and the blood-brain barrier are all central to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, likens the new approach to how statins help people with heart disease. Statins lower excess cholesterol in the bloodstream before the cholesterol can glom onto a blood vessel and cause problems with blood flow; in the same way, LRP-IV lowers amyloid-beta and indirectly lowers levels of amyloid-beta in the brain.
It was more than a decade ago that Zlokovic first identified LRP, a molecule that acts like an escort service in the brain, shuttling amyloid-beta out of the brain and into the body. The amyloid plaques that speckle the brains of Alzheimer’s patients are a hallmark of the disease, and where they come from and how to get rid of them has long been a focus of scientists.
“We used to think that Alzheimer’s disease was a problem with the production of too much amyloid-beta, but it’s become clear in recent years that the problem is with faulty clearance of amyloid-beta,” said Zlokovic, professor of Neurosurgery and Neurology and director of the Frank P. Smith Laboratory for Neuroscience and Neurosurgery Research. “We aren’t really talking about massive amounts of amyloid-beta. Even a small malfunction in the elaborate system that carries it into or out of the brain could lead, over years, to accumulate in amounts that damage the brain.”
The work described in the paper, which will appear in the September issue of Nature Medicine, was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, components of the National Institutes of Health.
In addition to Zlokovic, other authors of the paper include post-doctoral associate Abhay Sagare, Ph.D.; Rashid Deane, Ph.D., associate professor; and graduate student Robert Bell – the three share equal credit as first co-authors for the work. Additional Rochester authors include technicians Bradley Johnson and Katie Hamm; medical students Andrew Marky and David Perlmutter; graduate student Mireia Coma; post-doctoral associates Zhenhua Wu and Zhihui Zhong; and faculty member Troy Zarcone.
Additional authors include Alison Goate and Kevin Mayo of Washington University School of Medicine, who checked the genetic form of LRP in blood samples; and Ronan Pendu and Peter Lenting of University Medical Center in Ultrecht, the Netherlands. Blood samples of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and their healthy counterparts were provided by the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Washington University.
For more media inquiries, contact:
Monday, August 13, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
By Michael Kahn
LONDON, Aug 10 (Reuters) - A British court has ruled that the country's drugs cost-effectiveness watchdog can restrict access to medicines for Alzheimer's disease to only the neediest patients, rejecting an appeal by drugmakers and charities.
Although the court said on Friday that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) had breached its duties towards some patients, both sides in the case said this would affect very few people.
The case was the first time that the agency in charge of deciding which medicines are offered in the state health system in England and Wales had faced a legal action.
Its outcome was closely watched because Britain is pioneering attempts to measure the value of drugs, in addition to their safety and efficacy, and other countries may follow suit as they seek to control soaring health budgets.
NICE sparked fury among drug companies and care groups by denying access to medicines costing around $5 a day for National Health Service (NHS) patients newly diagnosed with mild Alzheimer's disease. It argued they were only cost-effective for patients with moderate or severe forms of the disease.
Japan's Eisai Co. Ltd., which markets top-selling Alzheimer's medicine Aricept with Pfizer Inc. (PFE), and the Alzheimer's Society, representing patients and their carers, took NICE to court claiming it was being unfair.
"The legal challenge to our recommendation that drugs for Alzheimer's disease should only be prescribed to those in the moderate stage of the disease has failed," NICE said in a statement. "Our guidance stands and the drugs continue to be recommended only for people with moderate Alzheimer's disease."
Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "This is not satisfactory and the Society is considering whether to pursue an appeal."
The court also ruled, however, that NICE had breached its duties by not offering specific advice for people with learning disabilities and people for whom English is not their first language.
NICE said it had always been its intention to make sure such people had equal access to the drugs in the moderate stage of Alzheimer's disease and it would reissue our guidance to the NHS to make this "crystal clear".
Anti-cholinesterase drugs such as Aricept can help but not cure some Alzheimer's patients. Other products affected by NICE's decision are Exelon from Novartis AG (NOVN.VX: Quote, Profile , Research), Ebixa from Lundbeck A/S (LUN.CO: Quote, Profile , Research) and Reminyl from Shire Plc (SHP.L: Quote, Profile , Research), which is sold elsewhere by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N: Quote, Profile , Research) as Razadyne.
Such drugs are widely used in other countries, but NICE calculates their cost -- about 1,000 pounds ($2,023) per patient a year -- means they are not cost-effective for most patients.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) was disappointed by the court's decision.
"NICE's decisions rely very heavily on...using healthcare costs and benefits only, and do not properly acknowledge the full "value" of medicines to patients, their carers and society at large," it said in a statement.
The medical director of Shire in the UK said the decision was "better than nothing" but fell short of what was needed.
"The tragedy is mild patients are still not recommended for treatment under the NHS," Ian Howe said.
However, the Science Media Centre, which aims to promote science, said NICE was working well.
"There has been a huge escalation in the costs of drug treatments and no health system in the world can afford to pay for every new drug that comes along," it said.
"It is essential that such decisions are based on the best scientific evidence and not influenced by the industry's PR machine or by their heavyweight lawyers."
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Several studies are now pointing to the fact that estrogen may offer protection against Alzheimer's disease.
Source New York Presbyterian
Facts about estrogen and Alzheimer's disease
Estrogen is important to the building and maintenance of nerve networks in the brain from early on in life. Several studies are now pointing to the fact that estrogen may offer protection against Alzheimer's disease in postmenopausal women. One study conducted on almost 90,000 postmenopausal women found that those taking estrogen had a significantly longer life and by the time of their deaths, the women on estrogen had a 40 percent lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease. In another related study, estrogen was also associated with a significantly decreased occurrence of the disease. In addition, those women who did develop Alzheimer's disease and were on estrogen replacement therapy seemed to have a milder form of the disease. Additional studies are being conducted to determine just what the protective nature of estrogen is in its relationship with Alzheimer's disease.
Human Antibodies in Blood Potentially Could Act as Specific Protection Against Toxic Form of Beta Amyloid
In what could prove to be an important development in the search for a treatment of Alzheimer's disease, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center physician-scientists say the results of an initial (Phase I) clinical study provide encouraging evidence that antibodies derived from human plasma can capture the beta-amyloid protein in blood and exert positive effects on patients' thinking abilities. Beta-amyloid is a central component of the senile plaque in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, and its toxicity against brain cells is believed to be a prime cause of the illness.
You can read more about this at the Wall Street Journal Health Blog.
Old Drug Takes New Turn in Alzheimer’s Test
Old Drug Takes New Turn in Alzheimer’s Test
Old Drug May Yield New Alzheimer's Treatment
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
"We found the earliest predictor," said the lead researcher, Lisa Mosconi of New York University School of Medicine. "The hippocampus seems to be the very first region to be affected..."Alzheimer's Reading Room
Monday, August 6, 2007
Source Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
What is it?
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of a condition called dementia. Dementia is a general decline in mental ability, such as memory, language skills, judgment, and concentration. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, which means symptoms occur gradually and become worse over time. It is named for the German doctor who first described it, Alois Alzheimer.
Who gets it?
Alzheimer’s disease affects most commonly affects those over the age of 65, although it has been diagnosed in people in their 40s and 50s.
What causes it?
The degeneration of parts of the brain, which destroys brain cells, causes the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. However, at this time researchers are not sure what causes this degeneration. Those with a family history of Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop the disease as they age, so there is a gene abnormality that causes the disease in some people. Researchers are looking for links between Alzheimer’s disease and the environment, lifestyle, nutrition, and viruses.
What are the symptoms?
Alzheimer’s usually progresses in three stages, with each lasting anywhere from one to several years. The first symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is usually mild forgetfulness. Someone in the early stages may find him or herself unable to find the right word, recall where something was placed, or recall someone’s name. It may be difficult to concentrate. At this point, symptoms are so general that they do not signal a serious problem or have a great impact on day-to-day functioning. As the disease progresses to the second stage, the forgetfulness becomes worse, making it difficult to function at work, remember directions, or to even make it through the day without difficulty. The person may be restless and unable to sleep at night. His or her personality may change considerably, with increasing anxiety and decreasing emotions. By the late stages of Alzheimer’s, patients suffer from extreme confusion and memory loss. They are unable to recall the names of close friends and family or recent events, and cannot function socially or perform basic daily personal care. Late-stage Alzheimer’s patients may have hallucinations and delusions.
How is it diagnosed?
Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed by taking a complete medical history and performing a thorough physical examination. Alzheimer’s is generally suspected when there is a gradual deterioration in mental ability. The doctor will perform tests, such as blood tests and brain scans, to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms. The doctor will also ask the patient a series of questions to test his or her mental status. One type of test of mental status is called neuropsychological testing, which is a standardized test of memory, concentration, and visual-spatial skills. Because a definite diagnosis can only be made by performing an autopsy after death, patients are diagnosed with “probable” Alzheimer’s. An autopsy of brain tissue, however, will show areas of abnormal tissue, called plaques, made up of abnormal proteins; a loss of nerve cells; and areas of tangles in the nerve cells that remain in patient’s with Alzheimer’s disease.
What is the treatment?
At this time, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Treatment focuses on maintaining the best possible quality of life for the patient by providing a supportive environment. Memory aids, such as calendars and other daily reminders of time and place, can help the patient feel more secure and reduce confusion. There are some medications that, when used in the early stages of this disease, can slow memory loss in some patients for a limited amount of time. However, these drugs are used with caution because of potential side effects. Other drugs may be prescribed to treat anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, and hallucinations, as necessary. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, it is important to help the patient maintain as much independence as possible. As the disease progresses, it may be necessary to seek the help of a home healthcare aid, an adult daycare, or nursing home. While there is currently no treatment to prevent or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s, researchers are continuing to study this disease and test new drugs. There is a possibility that certain types of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.
A diagnosis of probable Alzheimer’s is devastating for someone who has been accustomed to living an independent life. It is important to provide the patient with emotional and physical support as he or she adjusts to living with this disease. Keeping the daily routine consistent and as stress free as possible is helpful. Because depression is so common in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, you should be aware of the signs of depression and seek help for the patient as soon as possible. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be demanding and discouraging, especially when the loved one does not remember who you are. Your doctor or local social services agency can direct you to support services to help make this time a little easier. Also seek legal advice so it is clear who has the power to make medical and financial decisions once your loved one is no longer able to do this for him or herself. If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, see your doctor for regular checkups. An early diagnosis is important, especially as the medical community learns more about this disease and its treatment. While there is no way to prevent this disease, you can lower your risk and protect yourself from many illnesses by following a healthy diet that is high in fiber and antioxidants and low in saturated fat, and participating in regular physical exercise. Performing activities that stimulate your brain on a regular basis, such as crossword puzzles, word searches, or memory games, may also help maintain mental ability longer.
This information has been designed as a comprehensive and quick reference guide written by our health care reviewers. The health information written by our authors is intended to be a supplement to the care provided by your physician. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.