Alzheimer's Disease .. or The Baby Boomer Nightmare.

Dementia / Alzheimer's has been noted since the beginning of recorded history.

Dementia is progressive brain dysfunction  (from Latin dementia:  irrational)..  the actual loss of brain function.

  • Alzheimer's Disease is a form of Dementia .. along with Parkinson's & Cerebral Stroke's Vascular Dementia.

10 million Baby Boomers (& their families) will be devastated by Alzheimer's Disease.

Big belly in your 40s = 82% more Dementia in your 60s.

Passive second hand cigarette smoke boosts Dementia Risk  

Smoking increases dementia risk by 50%!  &  Increases mid-life memory loss

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a neurological condition in which the brain's nerve cells actually die.

Brain cells are actually lost  .. Brain mass actually shrinks over a period of years.

Alzheimer's is not a popular diagnosis .. more persons exhibit symptoms than have an Alzheimer's Diagnosis.

 

The progression of the Alzheimer’s condition involves a run-away toxic protein beta-amyloid.

Gooey sticky fibrous clumps of amyloid plaque cause brain cell dysfunction & death

Very few persons under 60 have an Alzheimer's diagnosis. The incidence of Alzheimer's doubles every 5 years after 60.

 

  • In 1906 a German Dr. Alzheimer reported significant changes in the brain tissue of a deceased patient who had exhibited unusual mental symptoms.

  • Dr. Alzheimer reported that an autopsy revealed clumps of tangled fibers in the brain.

  • The clumps of tangled fibers are now called “amyloid plaques” and the tangles themselves are named “neurofibrillary tangles”.

  • 2006: Those clumps, amyloid plaques, are the definitive diagnosis for Alzheimer’s.

  • 2006: the test for those clumps is possible only post mortem

  • There is currently, 2006, no known chemical marker / lab test for monitoring of the development and progression amyloid plaques.

  • The beta-amyloid creates sticky plaques and fiber like tangles that gradually disables / kills nerve cells within the brains regions devoted to memory and learning.

  • There is progress being made with a counter acting protein, transthyretin, in animal / rodent studies.

  • In animals the Alzheimer's / Amyloid Plaque disease process depends in large part on the precise ratio between ‘good’ transthyretin protein and the ‘bad’ beta-amyloid protein.

There also are lower levels of chemicals, neurotransmitters, in the brain of Alzheimer's patients.

  • Neurotransmitters facilitate the communication between nerve / brain cells.

  • Alzheimer's Disease may disrupt normal thinking and memory by interfering with the messages between nerve cells.

  • Nerve impulses / communication between brain cells occurs in the presence of neurotransmitters.  In Alzheimer's the density per cc of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)is reduced.

Medicare spent $91 billion on Alzheimer’s in 2005.  Alzheimer's care is projected to be $160 billion in 2010 & $189 billion by 2015.

 

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The amyloid protein damages brain tissue by interacting with the enzyme amyloid beta alcohol dehydrogenase (ABAD) which then releasing the toxic substances that kills brain cells.

59 year old best-selling author Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  Mr. Pratchert 1st became concerned when a loss loss in eye-hand coordination was noted.  Mr. Prachett will continue writing.

  • 2006: 5% of the total population above 65 years of age are diagnosed with Alzheimer's

  • About 20 % of the population over 80 years and about 30 % of those over 90 are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

  • 50% of persons over 85 exhibit symptoms, but less than 30% have the dreaded diagnosis.

  • Already, one in eight people 65 and older have the mind-destroying illness, and nearly one in two people over 85.

 

2009: There is no effective cure / treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease.

  • In fact, there is not even a 90% reliable definitive diagnosis for Alzheimer’s.

  • PET, Positron Emission Tomography, Scans now offer an insight to Alzheimer's effect inside the brain.

  • PET imaging visually demonstrates the metabolism of glucose and thus brain activity.

  • Alzheimer's degenerative effect is present long before diagnostic "plaques and tangles" appear.

  • The disease may develop for decades pre-diagnosis

Alzheimer's & Glaucoma link discovered.  The protein beta-amyloid also results in glaucoma's eye nerve cell damage.

Human Growth Hormone injections in the days and weeks after a stroke could lead to greatly improved recovery rates.  ABC News

Appropriate lifestyle interventions can delay disability and thus extend functionality.  Appropriate exercise, proper rest, proper nutrition, appropriate use of alcohol & stop smoking .. (intelligent lifestyle?) ... extend mental function.

Begin exercise by your late 40s and early 50 to reduce your risk of dementia by about 50%

January, 2007: Alzheimer's vaccine 'in a patch'.  University of South Florida researchers reported the patch was able to clear brain-damaging plaques from mice.

45% of people with Alzheimer’s disease residing in nursing homes are prescribed  neuroleptics as a treatment for behavioral symptoms such as aggression.  These Alzheimer's drugs are linked with a significant increase in long-term mortality - with patients dying on average six months earlier.

Appropriate exercise, proper rest & planned nutrition ...  intelligent lifestyle?

You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She's 97 today and we don't know where the hell she is. ~Ellen DeGeneres

The scariest part of middle age is the knowledge that you'll grow out of it! ~ Doris Day

What's good for the heart is good for the brain.  Eating a "Mediterranean-style" healthy diet significantly reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer's.

there are over 90 current research studies in the US            Alzheimer's research centers 

People with Alzheimer suffer from impaired memory and orientation, have limited concentration, exhibit poor planning / judgment and often exhibit personality changes.

Initial symptoms often involve impaired communication, understanding, reading, or writing.

Alzheimer's disease is a slowly developing condition.

  • Over a period of up to 20 years cognitive changes / impairments become increasingly debilitating.

  • The underlying pathologic conditions may be present for years before / without diagnosis.

  • Progression and time frame are totally variable from person to person.

  • Alzheimer's disease can be terminal in as few as 8 to 10 years after diagnosis.

  • More women than men develop Alzheimer's, but the incidence by age is similar among men and women.. women just out live man & age is the primary criteria for developing Alzheimer's.

Age is the most critical risk factor for Alzheimer's Disease.

  • Alzheimer's is not a popular diagnosis

  • The words / concepts of GuardianPower of Attorney & Alzheimer's are often present in the same document.

    • Diagnosed or undiagnosed Alzheimer's is a medical situation that can send a physician to court to be countered by an 'expert witness'.

    • The diagnosis can result in the  loss of financial and personal independence.

 

21st century Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer's disease.

  • Diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease increase one’s chance of experiencing the wonders of Alzheimer’s.

    • 65% increase in the risk of developing AD among those with diabetes compared with those who did not have diabetes.

      • 2005  – Elevated levels of insulin, the hormone that is involved with diabetes, might cause brain inflammation and play a role in the onset of Alzheimer's.

      • High insulin was also linked to high levels of beta amyloid.

      • Some success has been reported with NSAIDs.

    • Animal studies indicate a correlation between Alzheimer's risk and high cholesterol.

      • Recall the APOE genes & it's relationship to Alzheimer's & cholesterol.

    • Two recent studies show that patients on the cholesterol lowering medication "STATIN" correlated with a reduced incidence of Alzheimer's.

      • The effects may be related to some other action of the "STATIN" class of medication.

  • Genetics are responsible for up to 80% of Alzheimer's and the same genes effect both men and women.

    • Those with the Alzheimer's genetic mutation on gene APOEe4 are 60% - 80% likely to be afflicted.

    • 2005: General Psychiatry reports an 80% genetic link to Alzheimer's demonstrated by a Swedish study on 12, 000 geriatric patients.

      • Nationalized medicine in Sweden makes it a wonderful resource.  Everyone's in the system.

    • Researchers from the University of Southern California report a study on 392 pairs of twins ( where one or both had Alzheimer's ) demonstrated that Alzheimer’s is between 60% and 80% heredity.

      • It was a 60% - 80% certainty that if one twin was diagnosed with Alzheimer's the other twin would be too.

      • APOE gene that controls the manufacture of apo-lipo-protein e, a protein that acts as a cholesterol carrier.

Feb. 27, 2005: Scientists say they have identified a section of the brain which, when damaged by stress hormones, can cause the onset of dementia.   High levels of stress hormone have been found to shrink the anterior cingulate cortex at the centre of the brain.

It is the personality changes that often result in family members seeking professional help.

Feb 26, 2006: High levels of stress hormones have been found to shrink the anterior cingulate cortex at the centre of the brain. 

There is currently, 2006, no marker / test for monitoring of the development and progression amyloid plaques.

Genetics

One major diagnostic efforts involves the use of21st century  imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) & positron emission tomography (PET), to measure brain activity,  brain structure and brain .function.  Brain scans may one day help detect Alzheimer's disease and other forms of cognitive impairment before symptoms appear.

 Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Imaging

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are very effective diagnostic tool when used over a period of time.  Reduced brain size over a period of years is demonstrated by MRI scans.

No treatment can stop Alzheimer's disease.  Some current medications appear to slow the progress of the disease or even reverse the symptoms for a period of months.

If You got this far down the page: 

There is another protein, in addition to beta-amyloid, that is intimately involved in the tangled plaque.  tau.

The nuerofibrillary tangles are composed primarily of the protein tau.  Tau is a component of healthy neurons, however in Alzheimer's an enzyme Cdk5 weakens tau's physical structure and function ..  which somehow causes it to form tangles.

The good news is that in test animals  suppressing the secretion of  Cdk5 has shown very positive results.

University of Chicago Researchers found that the first stage of age-related deterioration of sleep quality in men occurs between the ages of 25 and 45.