All Posts tagged alzheimer’s

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.


The Longest Day – Raise Alzheimer’s Awareness

The Longest Day – Raise Alzheimer’s Awareness

Chances are that someone in your life has been touched by Alzheimer’s. This disease has quickly spread to become an epidemic, affecting 47 million people worldwide and costing $604 billion a year to treat. Currently, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. What’s worse, it is the only cause of death in the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed.

While this all sounds pretty grim, that doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless. The Longest Day is an event that helps to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association, which is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. The event is held on the summer solstice and goes on from sunrise to sunset. Teams participate in an activity of their choice for the duration of the day, raising money and collecting donations along the way.

There’s still time to create a team and promote this valiant cause. All you need to do is gather your team members, choose an activity you enjoy, and raise some money! The funds that are donated will help to provide care and support to those facing Alzheimer’s, drive research toward treatment, prevention, and a cure, and give those who suffer from Alzheimer’s a voice in legislation and federal policy. A good goal is to try and raise at least $100 per hour of daylight per team… which equals $1600 that will go towards the fight against Alzheimer’s.


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.



Antidepressants May Be Key to Stopping Alzheimer’s

Antidepressants May Be Key to Stopping Alzheimer’s

Taking a certain antidepressant may be a way to prevent or stop the spread of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers have found that taking the drug citalopram, also known by brand name Celexa, may slow the production of the brain protein that has been linked to Alzheimer’s. These amyloid beta proteins build up over time, forming plaques that start causing memory issues after 10 to 15 years.

“This is not the great new hope. This is a small step,” said Dr. Yvette Sheline of the University of Pennsylvania, who is leading the research with Dr. John Cirrito of Washington University in St. Louis.

Amyloid beta proteins are produced by normal brain activity, but their levels increase at an abnormal rate in Alzheimer’s patients. Unfortunately, scientists aren’t even certain exactly how the amyloid beta proteins cause the disease – only that there is a link.

“The way the Alzheimer’s field is going is [we are] trying to find the initial insult in Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Cirrito. “We think it is the build-up of this amyloid beta peptide, and once it builds up, a lot of things go wrong.”

Scientists previously determined that serotonin seems to reduce the amount of amyloid beta production. Therefore, they came to the conclusion that a type of antidepressant known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) might have a positive effect against Alzheimer’s.

The researchers first gave the drug to older mice with Alzheimer’s, and found that the plaque areas did not go away, but did stop growing. Additionally, fewer new plaques formed compared to mice given a placebo.

When tested in 23 healthy young adults who were not depressed and did not have brain plaques, citalopram was found to have dropped their normal amyloid beta production by an average of 37 percent.

“The SSRIs in this study were all given to healthy young people not at risk for Alzheimer’s,” Cirrito said. “We don’t know if the same thing will happen in people older, and not at risk for Alzheimer’s, and have no idea if it affects cognition,” Cirrito said.

The next step in the research is to determine exactly how SSRIs work to lower amyloid beta levels in the brain, as well as how the drug affects different human populations.

“On the human side, we’re doing a similar study to what we just completed but in people [who are] older and at risk for Alzheimer’s, to see if we can affect a-beta in those people or not,” Cirrito said. “If not, then the utility of this for people with Alzheimer’s would go down dramatically.”


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