All Posts tagged alzheimer’s disease

Could Alzheimer’s Be Detected by This Simple Test?

Could Alzheimer’s Be Detected by This Simple Test?

Scientists have discovered a new way to test for Alzheimer’s disease, and it involves peeing into a cup.

That’s right – a simple urine test could be a new non-invasive method to diagnosis Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages. Currently, there is no definitely test for living people, as the only way to know for sure if a person has the disease is to dissect the brain. The only sign scientists can observe is a buildup of amyloid plaque deposits in the brain, which is what seemingly causes the mental decline associated with the disease.

A study was performed on mice which had been genetically altered to have the gene thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s. The urine of these mice was then compared with mice who did not gave genetic changes.

In the mice with genetic alterations, a specific odor was detected that was not present in the urine of the unaltered mice. Using chemical analysis, scientists determined that no new compounds were present in urine. Instead, different concentrations of the existing compounds were present, creating the unique smell.

What’s more, the genetically altered mice had not yet shown signs of plaque buildup in the brain at the time the test was conducted, leading scientists to believe that the changes in urine were due to genetics themselves. Therefore, this test could be used as a method of detecting Alzheimer’s before plaque buildup in the brain actually occurs.

While the test won’t help stop Alzheimer’s from happening, it can give patients and families time to prepare for the future as well as begin preventative treatment for any forming symptoms. Further tests are required to determine efficacy in human subjects.


Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month Quiz

Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month Quiz

There are so many relevant health issues that are recognized in November that it’s hard to keep track of them all! The last one we are featuring this month is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. This is a cause that hits close to home, as many of our patients suffer from this disease or the pre-stages of this disease.

Alzheimer’s is a disease in which nerve cells die in the brain, causing memory problems, lapses in judgment, and difficulty thinking. It is more than just simple forgetfulness or absentmindedness. A person with Alzheimer’s has trouble participating in normal day-to-day activities and may need constant assistance. They may get lost when they are out doing an errand and will not remember how to get home, how they got there, or even who they are. It is common for these people to forget important knowledge such as what year it is, who their family members are, or how everyday chores or tasks work.

Alzheimer’s is more than just memory issues, however. Sufferers also develop emotional issues, and can have sudden mood changes that are unexpected or unwarranted. They may go from feeling angry, irritable, restless, or quiet in one moment to feeling confused, paranoid, or fearful in the next. As the brain continues to deteriorate, symptoms progress even further.

Every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease, which means this disease is nothing to laugh about. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and the 5th leading cause of death for those ages 65 and older. This could be even higher, as many official sources do not consider all of the ways in which Alzheimer’s can impact health. In fact, it kills more than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.

Now that you know a little more about Alzheimer’s and how it affects people, take our quiz and see how well you do! When you are finished, share it with a friend so they can also learn more about this terrible disease.

Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month

Alzheimer’s disease affects 5 million people across the United States. Learn more and spread awareness by taking this quiz.

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New Blood Test Detects Onset of Alzheimer’s

New Blood Test Detects Onset of Alzheimer’s

Scientists have successfully identified a series of 10 proteins found in the blood that could ultimately predict the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Eventually, such a test might be used to help find a cure for the currently untreatable disease.

The study, which was conducted by British scientists over a year-long period, predicted whether or not participants would develop Alzheimer’s with 87 percent accuracy.

They began by looking at blood samples from 1,100 participants divided into three categories: 476 who already had Alzheimer’s, 220 with mild cognitive impairment, and 452 without dementia. Initially, they were looking for 26 proteins that had been linked to Alzheimer’s in the past, but narrowed down their search after further analysis.

Scientists say this test is crucial because it would allow them to begin clinical trials earlier in the disease’s progression. Between 2002 and 2012, 99.6 percent of clinical trials geared towards preventing or reversing the effects of the disease were a failure.

“Alzheimer’s begins to affect the brain many years before patients are diagnosed (and) many of our drug trials fail because by the time patients are given the drugs the brain has already been too severely affected,” said Simon Lovestone of Oxford University, one of the study’s authors.

“A simple blood test could help us identify patients at a much earlier stage to take part in new trials and hopefully develop treatments which could prevent the progression of the disease,” he continued.

The next step in the process is to repeat the findings on a several group of people. If all goes according to plan, the blood test could be available for use in the next two years and would cost around 100-300 British pounds.

Until the test is more verifiable, scientists have doubts about using it on the general public as a diagnosis tool.

“Alzheimer’s disease is now the most feared diagnosis,” said Dr. Eric Karran, science director at Alzheimer’s Research UK. “We have to be very careful about how we use these tests, especially in the absence of effective therapy.”

“These 10 proteins can predict conversion to dementia with less than 90% accuracy, meaning one in 10 people would get an incorrect result,” said Dr. James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society. “Therefore, accuracy would need to be improved before it could be a useful diagnostic test.”


7 Recipes to Stave Off Alzheimer’s

7 Recipes to Stave Off Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is a terrible disorder from which many of our patients suffer. It causes memory loss, slow thinking, disorientation, and mood and behavior changes. While scientists don’t know exactly what causes it and don’t have a way to cure it, there are ways you can help protect yourself. Living a healthy life with a focus on brain health may be a way to stop the disease from progressing and improve your quality of life.

Living a healthy life doesn’t have to be hard, though. Simply changing the way you eat can have a huge influence on your life. All of these recipes are specifically designed with brain health in mind. Who knew being healthy could be so… tasty!


1. Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

alzheimer's recipes home health

Black beans and quinoa are renowned for having wonderful health benefits. The beans contain vitamins that improve brain function. Additionally, the meal contains anthocyanins, which protect the brain, reduce blood pressure, and even lower your risk of getting diabetes! Sounds like it’s time to start snacking!


2. Hot Wild Salmon

alzheimer's recipes home health

Everyone knows about the jaw-dropping power of omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t know, this polyunsaturated fat that is found in salmon is essential for increased memory in adults and decreased onset of mental decline in the elderly. Pair that with the delicious flavor of this ginger-infused salmon dish, and you should have absolutely no complaints.


3. Crab-Stuffed Artichokes

alzheimer's recipes home health

Not to get on the fish train, but… it really is good for you. And don’t forget about the restorative properties of the artichoke. Dark leafy green vegetables have tons of iron, which is essential for activities like learning, memory, and attention. This would be a perfect appetizer for a summer party since it looks absolutely stunning when it is finished.


4. Roasted Beet Crostini

alzheimer's recipes home health

Beets are one of those things that you’re either a fan of or you hate. If you happen to like them, then this appetizer will make your tongue die from happiness. The beets are roasted for additional flavor and then pureed with goat cheese for a creamy and delectable paste that is easily spread on your choice of baguette.


5. Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sesame Glaze

alzheimer's recipes home health

Potatoes have a bad reputation, usually because they are served fried (which means they are covered in fat) or boiled (which drains out all of the vitamins). Roasting potatoes, however, allows them to keep their high dose of nutrients! When paired with the sweet sesame honey glaze, your mouth will feel like it has gone to heaven and your brain will be thanking you for it.


6. Breakfast Fried Rice with Scrambled Eggs

alzheimer's recipes home health

Eggs are a power food packed with protein, which is good for keeping your brain in working order. It’s also filled with a plethora of veggies that all combine to pack a powerful punch of nutrients to your body. This scrambled egg combo makes a much better breakfast than sugary cereals or a carb-loaded bagel.


7. Ahi Tuna on Rye with Spinach Pesto Yogurt

alzheimer's recipes home health

Nothing’s better than a good sandwich. This delectable dish makes a perfect lunchtime substitute for fast food. It combines tuna, spinach pesto yogurt, raisins, pistachios, and lemon juice into one brain-healthy recipe. These ingredients are packed with the nutrients that help keep your memory sound and your cognition clear.



Blood From 115-Year-Old Woman Reveals Secrets of Longevity

Blood From 115-Year-Old Woman Reveals Secrets of Longevity

Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper was 115 years old when she died of old age in 2005 and donated her body to science. After several years of analysis, scientists have come a little closer to understanding the secrets of longevity.

What they learned is that the lifespan of humans might be limited by the ability of stem cells to keep replenishing tissues.

Photo by Houghi

Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper before her death in 2005. Photo by Houghi

Andel-Schipper was born in 1890 and led a disease-free life with a clear and capable mind until her death. She is the oldest person to ever donate her body to science.

Scientists from the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam fronted the study. They found that by the end of Andel-Schipper’s life, she had only two viable stem cells that were continuing to produce white blood cells.

At birth, most people have around 20,000 blood stem cells. Usually, around 1,000 are active at any given time to help replenish the blood supply.  Additionally, the researchers found that the length of the telomeres of white blood cells were 17 times shorter than those in the brain.

Telomeres are protective tips on the end of chromosomes, similar to the aglets of a shoelace. As a cell replicates throughout its life, this tip burns down like a candle wick every time. Once a telomere becomes too short, the cell dies. White blood cells replicate frequently throughout life, while the cells of the brain typically stay the same after birth. By comparing the two different cells, scientists were able to see exactly how depleted Andel-Schipper’s telomeres were.

Because of this finding, scientists “speculate that most hematopoietic stem cells may have died from ‘stem cell exhaustion,’ reaching the upper limit of stem cell divisions,” said Dr. Henne Holstege, who led the study.

This research is important to scientists because it might provide a key to increasing lifespans by using stem cells.

“If I took a sample now and gave it back to myself when I’m older, I would have long telomeres again—although it might only be possible with blood, not other tissue,” Dr. Holstege said.

As of right now, scientists have a more immediate research goal in sight. They hope to use the results in correlation with studies on Alzheimer’s disease to reveal why some people are more susceptible to the disease at an early age.


Dementia May Lower Risk of Dying From Cancer

Dementia May Lower Risk of Dying From Cancer

A new study shows that elderly people who show symptoms of dementia but do not yet have Alzheimer’s have a 30 percent lower risk of dying from cancer.

Completed by Dr. Julian Benito-León of the Complutense University in Madrid, the study looked at 2,627 participants who were over 65 years of age.

The participants were given tests to assess their memory and thinking skills at the beginning of the study and then again after three years. The seniors were divided into three groups: those whose scores were declining the fastest, those whose scores improved, and those who were in the middle. Each participant was followed for an average of about 13 years.

During the course of the study, 1,003 participants died, 34 percent of which were a part of the fastest decline group. 21 percent of the fastest decline deaths were due to cancer.

In comparison, 29 percent of the deaths in the other groups were caused by cancer.

Even when variables were adjusted for factors such as smoking, diabetes, and heart disease, patients in the fastest decline group were still 30 percent less likely to die of cancer.

“We need to understand better the relationship between a disease that causes abnormal cell death and one that causes abnormal cell growth,” Dr. Benito-León said. “With the increasing number of people with both dementia and cancer, understanding this association could help us better understand and treat both diseases.”

Unfortunately, scientists still don’t understand the exact link between the two diseases. The study does help discount one one theory that seniors with Alzheimer’s disease simply failed to report their cancer symptoms, however.

The study joins the growing research that connects neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. A 2013 report showed that Alzheimer’s patients were half as likely to develop cancer and cancer patients were 35 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Photo by fechi fajardo