Are You At Risk For Getting Alzheimer’s Disease

January 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Alzheimers

Introduction
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that damages areas of the brain involved in intelligence, memory, behavior, judgment, and language. It is the most common form of mental decline in older adults. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, but the course of the disease varies from person to person. Some people may still be able to function relatively well until late stages of Alzheimers disease. Others may lose the ability to do daily activities in earlier stages. Over time, Alzheimer’s disease causes severe mental and functional problems and eventually results in death.

Causes
Scientists do not yet fully understand the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. There probably is not one single cause, but several factors that affect each person differently.

Recent studies indicate that amyloid beta protein may cause Alzheimer’s disease. In healthy people, this protein can cross the blood-brain barrier (the wall of blood vessels that feed the brain and regulate the entry and exit of brain chemicals) and leave the brain. In people with Alzheimers disease, amyloid beta protein can’t pass through that barrier. As more amyloid beta protein accumulates in a person’s brain, they become more and more mentally disabled.

Research has recently revealed that consumption of sugar could be one of the biggest threats to our overall health – especially when it comes to age related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. One of the major problems stemming from sugar over-consumption is a chemical process called glycation. Glycation refers to the combination of a sugar and a protein molecule and occurs in your body when glucose in your blood combines with the amino acids tryptophan, lysine or arginine. This reaction releases byproducts called Advanced Glycation Endproducts (appropriately given the acronym AGE).

The formation of AGEs is accelerated when you have lower levels of antioxidants in your system and when your kidneys are weak or malfunctioning. The formation is also accelerated when blood sugar levels are high. Researchers now believe that glycation and the formation of AGEs lie at the heart of the alteration of proteins in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease.

Risk Factors
Age is the most important known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.

Blood sugar problems that cause excess glucose in the blood, such as diabetes, has now been added to the list of risk factors for Alzheimer’s, given the role of glycation.

Family history is another risk factor, depending on the type of Alzheimer’s . Familial Alzheimer’s Disease, a rare form of Alzheimer’s that usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 60, is inherited – so family history is a big risk factor. The more common form of Alzheimers disease is known as late-onset Alzheimer’s. It occurs later in life, and no obvious inheritance pattern is seen.

Relationship to Aluminum
Since 1965, researchers have suspected that Alzheimers disease is related to accumulations of aluminum in the brain. A relationship between aluminum in drinking water and Alzheimer’s has now been established. Additionally, a study looked at the association of Alzheimer’s and lifetime exposure to aluminum in antiperspirants and antacids. Scientists found a direct correlation. The more antiperspirant that was used, the more likely the person would develop Alzheimers disease. The same held true for aluminum antacids. It is hard to deny that environmental exposure to aluminum is at least related to Alzheimer’s.

Symptoms and Cures
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease for which there is no known cure. However, various therapies and treatments can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Therefore, it is important to know the warning signs for each stage of Alzheimer’s and detect the condition early. If caught early alpha lipoic acid and other Alzheimer’s treatments can be used to slow (and possibly stop) the progression of the disease.

Alzheimer’s Toxin May Be Key To Slowing Disease

January 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Alzheimers

Australian scientists say they have identified a toxin which plays a key role in the onset of Alzheimer’s, raising hope that a drug targeting the toxin could be developed to slow the degenerative brain disease.

The toxin, called quinolinic acid, kills nerve cells in the brain, leading to dysfunction and death, the scientists said.

“Quinolinic acid may not be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but it plays a key role in its progression,” Alzheimer’s researcher Dr Karen Cullen from the University of Sydney said in a statement. “It’s the smoking gun, if you like.”

“While we won’t be able to prevent people from getting Alzheimer’s disease, we may eventually, with the use of drugs, be able to slow down the progression.”

Alzheimer’s is a brain-destroying disease that affects millions of people around the world. As the population gets steadily older, experts estimate numbers will balloon to as many as 16 million in the United States alone by 2015.

More than 200,000 people have Alzheimer’s disease in Australia and the number is expected to rise to 730,000 by 2050.

Outward symptoms start with memory loss, which progresses to complete helplessness as brain cells are destroyed. In the brain, neurons die as messy plaques and tangles of protein form.

The Alzheimer’s research team from Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, the University of Sydney and Japan’s Hokkaido University found quinolinic acid neurotoxicity in the brains of dementia patients.

Quinolinic acid is part of a biochemical pathway called the kynurenine pathway which is also found in other brain disorders, including Huntington’s disease and schizophrenia.

The scientists said there were several drugs in an advanced stage of development for other conditions which targeted this pathway and that these drugs, which still need to be tested, could be used to complement other treatments for Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimers Warning Signs

January 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Alzheimers

How do you know if that forgetfulness you’ve had is an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, or just normal aging?

You may forget the occasional name or sometimes have trouble thinking of the right word to use. Maybe you walk into another room and wonder what you were looking for. Is it Alzheimer’s, aging, or just plain being distracted, doing one thing while you’re thinking of another?

There are signs to look out for, signs that tell you it’s time to get to the specialist and get checked out. Treatments for Alzheimer’s disease work best in the early stages so it’s vitally important to get an early diagnosis. An early diagnosis and early treatment can give you more years of normal functioning, and save you and your family tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Warning Signs

Memory Loss: We all forget things like appointments, names, and phone numbers occasionally, and that’s normal. Forgetting freshly learned information more often can be a warning sign though.

Communication Problems: Having trouble finding the right word is not unusual, but the Alzheimer’s sufferer often forgets simple words and may use unusual words or strange descriptions. A camera may become “that box that makes pictures”.

Problems with everyday tasks: A person with Alzheimer’s disease can start having trouble doing jobs or hobbies that they’ve had many years of experience with. For example, they may be halfway through their favourite recipe and forget how to finish it though they’ve done it many times before.

Misplacing Things: This isn’t the normal losing the car keys, but more like putting things in unusual places such as the ice-cream in the oven, or clothes in the dishwasher.

Disorientation: A person with Alzheimer’s disease can get lost in their own street or stay sitting at the bus station because they can’t remember where they were going. They may not remember how to get home.

Impaired Judgement: Wearing a thick jacket on a blazing hot day or a swimsuit in the middle of winter could be a sign of dementia. Having poor judgement with money can be a symptom too, such as spending big amounts of money with telemarketers or buying products that aren’t needed.

Trouble with Complex Tasks: Having trouble with tasks that require abstract thinking like balancing a check book or playing a favourite game can be difficult for the Alzheimer’s sufferer.

Mood Swings, and Personality Changes: Mood changes for no apparent reason can be another symptom. The sufferer could be happy and cheerful one minute, and then suddenly become extremely angry over something that is quite trivial, or that they have imagined. They can become clingy with a family member, or suspicious of the neighbours.

Loss of Initiative: We can all get tired of housework or our business activities sometimes. But someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can become quite passive, watching television for hours, not wanting to do their normal activities, or spending more time sleeping.

Many more people are worried that they may have Alzheimer’s disease than actually get the disease. However, if you are suffering from these symptoms, see a specialist.