Category Archives: Alzheimer’s

Blocking a key enzyme may reverse Alzheimer’s memory loss – MIT study

In the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, many of the genes required to form new memories are shut down by a genetic blockade, contributing to the cognitive decline seen in those patients.

MIT researchers have now shown that they can reverse that memory loss in mice by interfering with the enzyme that forms the blockade. The enzyme, known as HDAC2, turns genes off by condensing them so tightly that they can’t be expressed.

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For several years, scientists and pharmaceutical companies have been trying to develop drugs that block this enzyme, but most of these drugs also block other members of the HDAC family, which can lead to toxic side effects. The MIT team has now found a way to precisely target HDAC2, by blocking its interaction with a binding partner called Sp3.

“This is exciting because for the first time we have found a specific mechanism by which HDAC2 regulates synaptic gene expression,” says Li-Huei Tsai, director of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the study’s senior author.

Blocking that mechanism could offer a new way to treat memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients. In this study, the researchers used a large protein fragment to interfere with HDAC-2, but they plan to seek smaller molecules that would be easier to deploy as drugs. Continue reading

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To what extent is dementia preventable?

Regular readers know that my family has a history of Alzheimer’s Disease and/or dementia. This is true on both my mother’s and father’s side. So, at 77, I am totally focused on anything that relates to these mental conditions. The following is from the Keck School of Medicine at USC by Erica Rheinschild.

Experts say that one-third of the world’s dementia cases could be prevented by managing lifestyle factors such as hearing loss, hypertension and depression.

 

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This remarkable fact was part of a report by the first Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care that was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2017 and published in The Lancet. The report also highlighted the beneficial effects of nonpharmacologic interventions such as social contact and exercise for people with dementia. Continue reading

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Could changes in thinking skills be reversible dementia? – Harvard

Regular readers know that I have had a number of Alzheimer’s and dementia occurrences in my immediate family. So, I am especially sensitive to anything related to dementia. The following is from Heidi Godman, Exetutive Editor, Harvard Health Letter.

We use the term “dementia” to describe a number of conditions that cause permanent thinking skills changes, such as memory loss and confusion. The most common kind of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which is characterized by clumping proteins that get tangled in and around brain cells, eventually causing them to die. The second most common type of dementia is vascular dementia, caused by decreased blood flow to the brain from atherosclerosis—the accumulation of fatty deposits on artery walls.

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Once dementia strikes, the damage is permanent, and we don’t have many treatment options. So, before a diagnosis is made, it’s crucial to rule out whether the causes for dementia are actually reversible conditions. Continue reading

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What about Alzheimer’s in the family? Harvard

Regular readers know that my family has suffered at least one case of Alzheimer’s and one or two of general dementia. I think it is fair to say that mental illness damages the entire family either directly or indirectly. It also has implications on individuals’ future mental health.

Harvard Medical School offers some fine counseling on the subject.

Alzheimer’s disease represents a personal health crisis, but it’s also a family concern. What does it mean for your children or siblings if you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? What does it mean for you if a close relative develops the condition?

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“People think that if their dad or aunt or uncle had Alzheimer’s disease, they are doomed. But, no, that’s not true,” says Dr. Gad Marshall, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. “Even though family history adds to the overall risk, age still usually trumps it quite a bit. It means your risk is higher, but it’s not that much higher, if you consider the absolute numbers.”

Family history by the numbers

Studies of family history say that if you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease—the most common form of dementia in older adults—your risk increases by about 30%. This is a relative risk increase, meaning a 30% hike in your existing risk.

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Extra-virgin olive oil may prevent Alzheimer’s

New research suggests that extra-virgin olive oil – a key component of the Mediterranean diet – may protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. Mouse experiments revealed changes in both cognitive performance and the appearance of nerve cells.

Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to affect approximately 5 million people in the United States. The neurodegenerative disease is progressive and cannot yet be cured or reversed.

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But new research moves closer to a prevention – and potentially reversing – strategy, by studying the effects of extra-virgin olive oil on the cognitive performance and brain health of mice.

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Can exercise help people at risk for Alzheimer’s – Study

One of the main goals in living longer is having one’s brain fully functional. Since I have both Alzheimer’s and dementia in my family tree, I am totally focused on keeping my brain working. There is no question that exercise can help one defend against dementia, but with Alzheimer’s the jury is still out.

Can exercise slow or prevent cognitive decline in older people who are at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease? A new clinical trial led by National Institute on Aging (NIA) -supported scientists in collaboration with the YMCA aims to find out whether exercise may be an effective nondrug treatment for staying cognitively fit.

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The trial, called EXERT, will enroll 300 people, age 65 to 89, with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition of mild memory problems that often leads to Alzheimer’s dementia. Based on the trial’s results, the researchers hope to develop an evidence-based “prescription” that will tell people the type and frequency of exercise needed to support memory and thinking skills.

“We want to design a real-life program that can be implemented in the community and prescribed by healthcare providers,” said Laura D. Baker, Ph.D., of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., who is leading the study with Carl W. Cotman, Ph.D., of the University of California, Irvine.

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Women perform better than men on memory tests for Alzheimer’s

Since I have at least three cases of Alzheimer’s or dementia in my family, this kind of information always resonates with me.

Women do better on verbal memory tests commonly used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease compared to men with the same amount of neurotoxic protein in their brains, a new study has found.

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It is well known that females have an advantage on verbal memory tests, in which subjects are challenged to recite back a list of heard words. Because women are better at the tests, which are often used to help detect and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, the severity of their disease may be missed, says Dr. Pauline Maki, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an author on the study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Frequent sauna bathing protects men against dementia

I don’t handle discomfort well, so sitting in a sauna sweating has never appealed to me. Having said that, as regular readers know I have lost three family members to Alzheimer’s or general dementia, so my radar shoots up to high when it comes to impaired cognition.

Frequent sauna bathing can reduce the risk of dementia, according to a recent study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland. In a 20-year follow-up, men taking a sauna 4-7 times a week were 66% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those taking a sauna once a week. The association between sauna bathing and dementia risk has not been previously investigated.

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The effects of sauna bathing on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia were studied in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD), involving more than 2,000 middle-aged men living in the eastern part of Finland. Based on their sauna-bathing habits, the study participants were divided into three groups: those taking a sauna once a week, those taking a sauna 2-3 times a week, and those taking a sauna 4-7 times a week.

The more frequently saunas were taken, the lower was the risk of dementia. Among those taking a sauna 4-7 times a week, the risk of any form of dementia was 66% lower and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease 65% lower than among those taking a sauna just once a week. The findings were published recently in the Age and Ageing journal.

Previous results from the KIHD study have shown that frequent sauna bathing also significantly reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death, the risk of death due to coronary artery disease and other cardiac events, as well as overall mortality. According to Professor Jari Laukkanen, the study leader, sauna bathing may protect both the heart and memory to some extent via similar, still poorly known mechanisms. “However, it is known that cardiovascular health affects the brain as well. The sense of well-being and relaxation experienced during sauna bathing may also play a role.”

Tony

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9  Powerful Eating Habits to Protect Your Brain From Alzheimer’s

This post hit home with my having lost two family members to Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Besides these powerful eating habits, don’t forget the role of exercise in brain health. Check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).

Tony

Our Better Health

Everything from how you cook meat to what you eat for dessert
can play a role in your brain health.

Here, how to eat to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.

by Kenneth S. Kosik, MD

There is no one best dietary pattern when it comes to eating for optimum brain health. Nor is there one magical food or supplement. Instead, a wide range of eating patterns—Asian eating, the MIND diet, the Mediterranean diet, vegan eating—has been shown to protect your brain. Although those eating patterns vary—for example, some include meat, others don’t; some place a heavy emphasis on fish, others suggest no fish—they all tend to have one thing in common: a preponderance of antioxidant-rich plant foods.

Plants manufacture antioxidant chemicals to protect themselves from ultra- violet light and disease. When we eat these plants—in the form of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and grains—we consume this built-in protection, and their…

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10 Ways to Love Your Brain – Alzheimer’s Association

As regular readers know, I am very sensitive to cognitive impairment, having lost two close family members to Alzheimer’s and dementia. So I was very happy to come across this list of recommendations for building up our mental muscles and reducing our chances of contracting Alzheimer’s from the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Research on cognitive decline is still evolving,” said Theresa Hocker, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association – North Central Texas Chapter. “But there are actions people can take. Certain healthy behaviors known to combat cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes also may reduce the risk of cognitive decline. These include staying mentally active, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating a heart-healthy diet that benefits your body and your brain.”

1. Break a sweat. Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.

2. Hit the books. Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.

3. Butt out. Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.

4. Follow your heart. Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.

5. Heads up! Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.

6. Fuel up right. Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), may contribute to risk reduction.

7. Catch some Zzz’s. Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.

8. Take care of your mental health. Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.

9. Buddy up. Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community – if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an afterschool program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.

10. Stump yourself. Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.

“While the adoption of all of these habits is important in influencing brain health, if it seems overwhelming, start with one or two changes and build on them,” Hocker said. “Some changes may be challenging, while others can be fun. Try to choose activities and foods you enjoy.”

I was particularly gratified to see that their first recommendation had to do with getting regular cardiovascular exercise. If you want to read further on this, check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).

Tony

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7 Ways to Cut Your Alzheimer’s Disease Risk – Infographic

Regular readers know that I have a special sensitivity to Alzheimer’s and dementia as I have lost several family members who were afflicted. There are no guarantees about preventing Alzheimer’s, but this infographic presents some good techiques for reducing your risk. In addition, please check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise) for details on how much the brain benefits from exercise.

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Regarding the first point about saturated fats, organic coconut oil is an exception. Please check out my Page – Coconut Oil – Why You Should Include it in Your Diet. I start every day with a tablespoon of peanut butter dipped in coconut oil.

Tony

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Follow the MIND Diet to Stave Off Alzheimer’s

The newly created MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), developed by researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, was shown to reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s by 53 per cent in people who followed it rigorously and by 35 per cent in those who adhered to it only modestly.

 Regular readers know that I have serious interest in Alzheimer’s and dementia as there is a history of it in my family. This MIND diet appears to make possible a two-pronged approach to avoiding the mental mayhem of these dread afflictions.

The first prong of the defense remains exercise. To learn more check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).

Tony

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Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian wrote . . . . .

Most of us have heard about the heart-healthy Mediterranean and blood-pressure-lowering DASH diets that may also guard against dementia.

According to a study, a hybrid of these two eating plans – called the MIND diet – is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. That’s true even if you don’t follow the diet strictly.

Family members are prerecording messages as part of a unique pilot program at the Hebrew Home in New York. The videos are trying to help victims of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia break through the morning fog of forgetfulness.

The newly created MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), developed by researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, was shown to reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s by 53 per cent in people who followed it rigorously and by…

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Simple Blood Test Can Predict Risk of Dementia

Globally, in excess of 35 million people suffer dementia – in Denmark alone, there are approx. 80,000 who suffer this illness. Prevalence increases in step with aging, and as people’s life years are continually on the rise in most countries, there is also an increasing need to be able to identify the citizens who are at the greatest risk of suffering dementia.

Regular readers know that dementia and Alzheimer’s are both extremely important to me as my mother and her sister suffered from them. That is the primary reason I have written so much about the brain here. I consider myself to be genetically predisposed to some kind of mental failing. Over the past five years of blogging I have written numerousposts on the subject. To read further, please check my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise). The latest findings in neuroscience indicate that cardiovascular exercise sends oxygen molecules to the brain where new brain cells are created. Therein lies my hope (and yours) of escaping Cognitive Impairment.

Tony

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Scientists at Rigshopitalet, Herlev Hospital and the University of Copenhagen identify a new biomarker that can predict the risk of developing dementia by way of a simple blood test. In the long term, this could mean better prevention and thus at least postponement of the illness and at best evading the development all together. The study was recently published in an internationally acclaimed journal, the Annals of Neurology.

Globally, in excess of 35 million people suffer dementia – in Denmark alone, there are approx. 80,000 who suffer this illness. Prevalence increases in step with aging, and as people’s life years are continually on the rise in most countries, there is also an increasing need to be able to identify the citizens who are at the greatest risk of suffering dementia.

As opposed to cardiovascular diseases, where the level of cholesterol in our blood indicates the risk of cardiac arrest, there…

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6 Surprising Things That Affect Your Brain

For some time, the prevailing view of a brain at midlife was that it’s “simply a young brain slowly closing down,” observes Barbara Strauch. But she notes that recent research has shown that middle age is actually a kind of cranial prime time, with a few comedic twists thrown in for fun.

“Researchers have found that — despite some bad habits — the brain is at its peak in those years. As it helps us navigate through our lives, the middle-age brain cuts through the muddle to find solutions, knows whom and what to ignore, when to zig and when to zag,” she writes. “It stays cool. It adjusts.”

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Regular readers know that I feel strongly about brain health and development as I have both Alzheimer’s and dementia in my family. Check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain for more.

Tony

Our Better Health

a Care2 favorite by Megan, selected from Experience Life

Brain scientists in recent years have discovered a number of surprising ways that the brain influences our overall health, as well as how our behavior influences the health of our brain. And unlike in the days of old — when scientists believed the brain was “fixed” after childhood, only to start an inexorable decline in the middle to later years — today, research is showing that the brain is perfectly capable of changing, healing and “rewiring” itself to an unexpected degree.

It turns out that the age of your brain may be a lesser influence on its structure than what you do with it. Pursuits that require intense mental focus, like language learning, “switch on” the nucleus basalis, the control mechanism for neuroplasticity.

In short, neuroplasticity means you have some control over your cranial fitness. While brain function naturally deteriorates somewhat…

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U.S. study looks into the benefits of coconut oil on patients with Alzheimer’s

While there is currently no clinical data showing the benefits of coconut oil on the prevention and treatment of dementia, Newport – whose husband Steve was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 51 – said she began to see improvements after starting him on four teaspoons of coconut oil per day.

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Regular readers know that I am totally into coconut oil. I have some every day of my life. Please check out my Page – Coconut Oil – Why You Should Include it in Your Diet.

Tony

Our Better Health

CTVNews.ca Staff   Published Wednesday, October 9, 2013 10:00PM EDT

After studying the effects of ginkgo leaves, vitamin E and painkillers on Alzheimer’s — a disease that affects about 30 million people globally — researchers at the University of South Florida have turned their attention to another possible natural remedy: coconut oil.

In what’s believed to be the first clinical trial of its kind, the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute enrolled 65 individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s to measure the effects of coconut oil — versus placebo – on the disease.

The research was sparked by the five-year efforts of Dr. Mary Newport, who hopes to have results of the study within a year.

Dr. Mary Newport and her husband, Steve, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 51.

Dr. Mary Newport says she began seeing improvements in her husband’s Alzheimer’s after she started giving him four teaspoons of coconut…

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Moderate Coffee Consumption May Lower the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease by Up to 20 Percent

Dr. Arfram Ikram, an assistant professor in neuroepidemiology at Erasmus Medical Centre Rotterdam, presented his findings at the symposium. He commented: “The majority of human epidemiological studies suggest that regular coffee consumption over a lifetime is associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease, with an optimum protective effect occurring with three to five cups of coffee per day.”

With Alzheimer’s and dementia in my family, anything like this resonates with me. For further health tips on this subject, check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain.

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

Drinking 3-5 cups of coffee per day may help to protect against Alzheimer’s Disease, according to research highlighted in an Alzheimer Europe session report published by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC), a not-for-profit organisation devoted to the study and disclosure of science related to coffee and health.

The number of people in Europe aged over 65 is predicted to rise from 15.4% of the population to 22.4% by 20251 and, with an aging population, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease are of increasing concern. Alzheimer’s Disease affects one person in twenty over the age of 65, amounting to 26 million people world-wide

Recent scientific evidence has consistently linked regular, moderate coffee consumption with a possible reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. An overview of this research and key findings were presented during a satellite symposium at the 2014 Alzhemier Europe Annual Congress.

The session report from this…

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