Tag Archives: Alzheimers Association

Walking patterns identify specific dementia type – Study

Walking may be a key clinical tool in helping medics accurately identify the specific type of dementia a patient has, pioneering research has revealed.

For the first time, scientists at Newcastle University have shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease or Lewy body dementia have unique walking patterns that signal subtle differences between the two conditions.

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Gait Lab photo

The research, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, shows that people with Lewy body dementia change their walking steps more – varying step time and length – and are asymmetric when they move, in comparison to those with Alzheimer’s disease.

It is a first significant step towards establishing gait as a clinical biomarker for various subtypes of the disease and could lead to improved treatment plans for patients.

Useful diagnostic tool

Dr Ríona McArdle, Post-Doctoral Researcher at Newcastle University’s Faculty of Medical Sciences, led the Alzheimer’s Society-funded research.

She said: “The way we walk can reflect changes in thinking and memory that highlight problems in our brain, such as dementia.

“Correctly identifying what type of dementia someone has is important for clinicians and researchers as it allows patients to be given the most appropriate treatment for their needs as soon as possible.

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A Current Look at Alzheimer’s Disease

Regular readers know that I have lost several family members to Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. So, I am acutely aware that I need to be on guard and do everything I can to keep myself off that list. Consequently, I write about it often.

I can tell you from first hand experience that Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease. Not only does it strip away its victim’s life and memories, but it tears the heart out of everyone who loves that person and witnesses it happening.

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The infographic has the latest info for 2015. There is no infographic for 2016, yet, but here are some of the numbers from the Alzheimer’s Association just released.

More than 5.0 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Family caregivers spend more than $5000 a year caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

Deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 71 percent since 2000, and it remains the only cause of death that cannot be prevented, slowed or treated. In 2016 an estimated 700,000 people will die with Alzheimer’s, meaning they will die after having developed the disease.

In 2015 more than 15 million caregivers provided an estimated 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care.
•    Every 66 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s. By mid-century, someone in the U.S. will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
•    Nearly half (48 percent) of family and friends of people with Alzheimer’s are jeopardizing their financial stability to afford dementia-related expenses. For some, this means drawing from savings or retirement funds; for others this may mean sacrificing basic needs such as food, transportation and medical care.
•    Nearly two out of three people incorrectly believe that Medicare helps pay for nursing home care, or were unsure whether it did — leaving many families unprepared for the personal financial impact of Alzheimer’s disease.

All is not lost. Last year I put together a post from the Alzheimer’s Association on protecting your brain. Please check out there – 10 Ways to Love Your Brain.

Last, but not least, My Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits) may prove helpful.

Tony

 

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Heart Health and Brain Health Linked – AA

Regular readers know that I am strongly concerned about my health, both physical and mental. At least two of my family members have suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia. So, I was thrilled to learn that the Alzheimer’s Association thinks there are links between heart health and brain health.

IMG_7718“Growing evidence suggests a close link between the health of the heart and the health of the brain. The brain is nourished by one of the body’s richest networks of blood vessels. With every beat, the heart pumps about 20 to 25 percent of the blood to the head, where brain cells use at least 20 percent of the food and oxygen carried by the blood in order to function normally. As a result, many factors that damage the heart or blood vessels may also damage the brain – and may increase the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias”, according to the Alzheimer’s Association (AA).

“Some autopsy studies show that as many as 80 percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease also have cardiovascular disease. This may be a key to understanding why some people who develop plaques and tangles on the brain – the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease – do not develop the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Autopsy studies suggest that plaques and tangles may be present in the brain without causing symptoms of cognitive decline unless the brain also shows evidence of vascular disease.”

Some of the factors for which there may be a heart-brain health connection include:
Smoking: There is fairly strong evidence that current smoking increases the risk of cognitive decline and possibly also dementia, and that quitting smoking may reduce the associated risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
Diabetes: Diabetes is associated with lower cognitive performance, and there appears to be strong, 
but not conclusive, evidence for an association between diabetes and dementia.
Obesity: Mid-life obesity increases the risk of cognitive decline and may also be associated with an 
increased risk of dementia.
High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure, or hypertension, especially in midlife, has been shown 
to be associated with a higher risk of cognitive decline. Some evidence has also shown that medi- cine for treating high blood pressure may be effective in reducing the risk of decline.

“What’s good for your heart may in fact be good for your brain, too. Physical activity is one such factor that not only protects the heart but improves cognitive function and may also protect against dementia. And, some emerging evidence suggests that consuming a heart-healthy diet may also protect the brain.

“Many cardiovascular disease risk factors are modifiable – that is, they can be changed to decrease the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. Many experts believe that controlling cardiovascular risk factors may be the most cost-effective and helpful approach to protecting brain health. In fact, some researchers have suggested that the improved cardiovascular health of the population in the last 25 years has had a spillover effect by also reducing the incidence of dementia. Thus, reducing the burden of diabetes, cardio- vascular disease, and obesity may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. By including brain health promotion messages in existing heart-health campaigns, the public health community may help reduce both the incidence of chronic cardiovascular conditions and future cognitive decline.”

To read further on this check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise).

Tony

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