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Category Archives: aging

UCSF Memory and Aging Center

I just visited the UCSF Memory and Aging Center for the first time. This new YouTube channel set up by UCSF is designed to educate patients, caregivers and health professionals about the various forms of neurodegenerative diseases. This is a great new vehicle and you can subscribe for free.

You can go to the website for a video that explains their mission.

Go here to learn more about Alzheimer’s and Frontotemporal Dementia.

This video caught my attention: Loss of moral reasoning and sense of self. While I have not experienced this problem with my mother, I am often asked about moral reasoning and how to deal with this.

 

Statins may protect against memory loss


I have written often on this website about Statins and Alzheimer’s. But, this quote in the University of Michigan School of Public Health release caught my attention.

People at high risk for dementia who took cholesterol-lowering statins are half as likely to develop dementia as those who do not take statins.

“The bottom line is that if a person takes statins over a course of about 5-7 years, it reduces the risk of dementia by half, and that’s a really big change,” said Haan, who notes that the study did not look at statins as a treatment for existing dementia, only as a preventative. Statins are drugs that specifically lower LDL or bad cholesterol.

After I read this I had to ask myself a simple question, should I be taking statins?

My cholesterol is ok, but, everyone in my immediate family suffers from high cholesterol and takes medication. Even with medication, my mother suffers from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s.

I’ll discuss this with my personal physician shortly and make the decision.

Statins may protect against memory loss

People at high risk for dementia who took cholesterol-lowering statins are half as likely to develop dementia as those who do not take statins, a new study shows.

The study consisted of older Mexican-Americans in Sacramento, Calif., who suffered from metabolic conditions that put them at risk for developing dementia, Alzheimer’s or cognitive impairment without dementia, said Mary Haan, epidemiology professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and lead author of the study. Some of the risk factors for dementia include high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

“The bottom line is that if a person takes statins over a course of about 5-7 years, it reduces the risk of dementia by half, and that’s a really big change,” said Haan, who notes that the study did not look at statins as a treatment for existing dementia, only as a preventative. Statins are drugs that specifically lower LDL or bad cholesterol.

The longitudinal study was originally funded in 1997 to look at metabolic and vascular conditions like hypertension and diabetes and their effect on the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Earlier landmark findings by Haan’s group of the same study cohort established that certain metabolic and vascular disorders predicted Alzheimer’s and dementia. For instance, people with Type 2 diabetes are up to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, they found.

In this current study, Haan’s group set out to measure whether taking statins over time lowered the development of dementia in that same high-risk population. The resulting paper, “Use of Statins and Incidence of Cognitively Impaired Not Demented and Dementia in a Cohort Study,” will appear in the July 29 issue of Neurology.

“In older people you have so many different chronic conditions, especially in this group, that the chance of any intervention having an effect is fairly limited,” Haan said. “Say you’re 75 or 80 and you’ve got six diseases. How much is a treatment really going to help? This showed if you started using statins before the dementia developed you could prevent it in about half of the cases.”

It’s likely that many people taking statins have already benefited unknowingly from the dementia fighting properties, she said. Haan hopes the study will help fuel randomized trials to test statins and their ability to prevent dementia.

Of 1,674 participants who were free of dementia at the start of the study, 27 percent, or 452 people, took statins at some point in the study. Over the five-year follow up period, 130 participants developed dementia or cognitive impairment. Researchers adjusted for factors such as education, smoking status, the presence of a particular gene thought to predict dementia, and history of stroke or diabetes.

“We aren’t suggesting that people should take statins for purposes other than what they are indicated for, but hopefully this study and others will open the door to statin testing for dementia and other types of cognitive impairment,” Haan said.

It’s not clear exactly how statins work to decrease the development of dementia. An emerging risk factor for dementia is high insulin, Haan said, and one theory is that statins may work on those insulin pathways in a way that lowers the high insulin levels in the brain that can lead to the classic Alzheimer’s pathology.

Statins lowered the risk of dementia in all participants, but the statins had more of an impact on the group at high risk due to metabolic syndrome. The next step, Haan said, is to determine exactly how the statins work on the biochemical pathways involved in dementia.

The research is funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the NIH, and the American Health Assistance Foundation. Co-authors include Caryn Cramer and Sandro Galea of the U-M SPH Department of Epidemiology, Kenneth Langa of the U-M Division of General and Internal Medicine and U-M Institute for Social Research and John Kalbfleisch of U-M SPH Department of Biostatistics.

The University of Michigan School of Public Health has been working to promote health and prevent disease since 1941, and is consistently ranked among the top five public health schools in the nation. Faculty and students in the school’s five academic departments and dozens of collaborative centers and initiatives are forging new solutions to the complex health challenges of today, including chronic disease, health care quality and finance, emerging genetic technologies, climate change, socioeconomic inequalities and their impact on health, infectious disease, and the globalization of health. Whether making new discoveries in the lab or researching and educating in the field, SPH faculty, students and alumni are deployed around the globe to promote and protect our health.

Related Links:

Mary Haan

School of Public Health

Contact: Laura Bailey
Phone: (734) 647-1848

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Most Early Onset Dementia Not Alzheimer’s

“This is really a novel finding, because there hasn’t really been a study that’s looked at young-onset dementia in this way,” said study author Dr. Brendan J. Kelley, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “And the message is that young-onset dementia is generally not related to Alzheimer’s.”

For a more detailed report on early-onset Alzheimer’s, visit the U.S. Administration on Aging.

HealthDay News — The root cause of early-onset dementia is usually not Alzheimer’s, but rather another neurodegenerative or autoimmune disorder, new research suggests.

The study authors acknowledge that — age aside — the most common forms of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and the brain damage-associated condition known as Lewy body dementia. However, their current work indicates that among patients below the age of 45, the problem is much more likely to be traced back to diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s, lupus or HIV infection, among others.

“This is really a novel finding, because there hasn’t really been a study that’s looked at young-onset dementia in this way,” said study author Dr. Brendan J. Kelley, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “And the message is that young-onset dementia is generally not related to Alzheimer’s.”

The work of Kelley and his team was expected to be presented April 15 at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting, in Chicago.

The U.S. Administration on Aging highlights 2006 estimates released by the Alzheimer’s Association, which indicate that between 220,000 and 640,000 American men and women currently suffer from early-onset dementia. The association specifically defines “early-onset Alzheimer’s” as referring to cases that develop before the age of 65.

However, in their study, Kelley and his team focused exclusively on 235 patients diagnosed with a form of dementia diagnosed between the ages of 17 and 45 — citing statistics suggesting that 12 in 100,000 people develop some form of early-onset dementia before the age of 45.

All the study patients had sought care at the Mayo Clinic between 1996 and 2006, and all had normal cognitive function prior to their dementia diagnosis.

A medical record analysis revealed that despite the fact that most adult dementia is a function of Alzheimer’s, less than 2 percent of the cases among the under-45 group was attributable to that disease.

Kelley and his colleagues found that other neurodegenerative conditions — such as frontotemporal dementia, a group of diseases commonly misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s — were at play in almost one-third of the cases.

Autoimmune and inflammatory disorders — such as MS — accounted for just over 20 percent of the dementia cases. Metabolic abnormalities were cited in just over 10 percent of the diagnoses, while for another 20 percent, no cause for dementia could be established.

Kelley said his work is ongoing. And he added that he and his colleagues are now trying to identify specific disease markers for early-onset dementia to help physicians distinguish those cases prompted by causes other than Alzheimer’s.

“Because some of the other disorders linked to early dementia have treatable profiles that allow targeting not just of the symptoms but of the underlying disease process,” he noted. “So, we really should be looking to identify them quickly when they are the cause, because the research suggests that treatment could result in a direct improvement of the patient’s cognition and behavior.”

Greg M. Cole, associate director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, described the findings as “interesting, but not completely unexpected”.

“We know that Alzheimer’s gets rarer and rarer the younger you go,” he said. “So, when you’re focused as this study is on people between 17 and 45 — really before middle-age — it’s more likely you’ll find some other cause for the dementia, which can be a variety of different things.”

“But if you’re looking at these other autoimmune causes — multiple sclerosis, lupus, HIV — the real question is, can you treat any of this?,” pondered Cole. “Because you can get lupus and MS to go into remission. So, in this case, if patients are getting dementia caused by either disease, can the dementia also go into remission? If they can get that to happen, that would be very interesting.”

More information

For additional information on early-onset Alzheimer’s, visit the U.S. Administration on Aging.

 

Vigorous Exercise Slows Aging

Well, we knew it. Now the studies confirm it. Vigorous walking for an hour a day five times a week can chop a dozen years off the biological age of people 64 and older, according to Roy Shephard, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Toronto, reported online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
A review of recent studies in patients age 64 and older showed that such a regimen can boost maximal oxygen intake by about 25% within three months, effectively decreasing biological age by about 12 years. That sounds good to me!

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Posted by on April 15, 2008 in aging, alzheimer's, bob demarco, exercise

 

Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

I noticed we had a couple of visits from a blog called Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna . The name alone was enough to get me to go and take a look. What a pleasant surprise. This is a very useful blog that is chock full of information. As soon as I started “fishing” on the site, I realized it was a resource that I needed to bookmark.

Pat, at Generation Sandwich, also made a nice comment about the Alzheimer’s Reading Room. Thanks Pat. I will be adding Generation Sandwich to the Blog roll as soon as Blogger gets over its current technical glitch.

When you have the time, go take a look at Generation Sandwich. Oddly, I was eating a sandwich when I noticed the visits in our stats.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2007 in aging, alzheimer's

 

Drinking juice may delay onset of Alzheimer’s disease


Drinking fruit or vegetable juice may be better for you than you think. A new research study shows that drinking fruit or vegetable juice may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle, Washington
following nearly 2,000 adults for 10 years found drinking fruit or vegetable juice more than three times a week cuts the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 76 percent compared to drinking it less than once a week. They found having juice once or twice a week reduced risk by 16 percent.

Highlights from the Study include:

“The theory is that the brain accumulates damage due to oxidation as we age, and if you can protect the brain from that damage you can protect the person from Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of dementia,” said Eric Larson, MD.

Researchers saw the protective benefits from any type of juice. The study also found there are more antioxidants in juice than in vitamin C and E supplements.

According to Dr. Larson, juice is made using parts of the fruit with the highest concentration of natural antioxidants. “The theory is the brain accumulates damage due to oxidation as we age and if you can protect the brain from that damage, you can protect the person from Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of dementia,” he said.

In most cases, juice is produced using the core, the seeds and the skin — parts of the fruit or vegetable people do not normally consume. The food is mashed together to create a concentrate. Juice is made in cold process, so nutrients aren’t damaged by heat. Juice will usually have a defined level of purity based on percentage of fruit juice. Juice should not be confused with squash, which is usually an artificial juice that can be diluted with water.

In theory, grape, apple and orange juices are very potent in antioxidants and could be the most effective at preventing Alzheimer’s disease, according to Dr. Larson. In the study, those who did not drink fruit juice, but ate several servings of fruit per week, saw some benefit. However, those who drank juice saw the most benefit.

Study participants who drank juice once or twice a week reduced their Alzheimer’s risk by 16 percent. Those who drank juice three times per week reduced their risk by 76 percent. Before you drink 10 glasses of orange juice each day, be aware there may be threshold for antioxidant consumption. Going above that amount may not necessarily bring benefits.

More on this study as it becomes available

 

Alzheimer’s Vaccine Patch Works in Mice

The Alzheimer’s vaccine being tested works by triggering the immune system to recognize and attack Ab — a protein that abnormally builds up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.


Source United Press International

Alzheimer’s vaccine patch works in mice


MIAMI, Jan. 22 (UPI) — A transdermal vaccine shows promise in treating the deadly memory-impairment disorder Alzheimer’s disease in mice, say U.S. researchers.

The needle-free approach appeared effective in clearing the Alzheimer’s-affected animals of the brain-damaging plaques that mark the disease, said researchers at the University of South Florida.

“While many groups have shown vaccinating against the beta amyloid protein (Ab) can reduce Alzheimer’s-like pathology including certain cognitive deficits, this study is the first to demonstrate that immunization using the skin may be an effective way to reduce Ab pathology,” said senior study author Jun Tan, director of the Neuroimmunology Laboratory at the Institute for Research in Psychiatry at USF.

The Alzheimer’s vaccine being tested works by triggering the immune system to recognize and attack Ab — a protein that abnormally builds up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

“The beauty is that something as simple and non-invasive as a skin patch could potentially be a promising therapy for Alzheimer’s disease,” said study coauthor Terrence Town.

A transdermal treatment for the disease would also reduce the risk of adverse immune reactions, the researchers said.

The study is published online this week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 
 
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