Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s Disease

Risk Factors for Dementia May Vary with Age

Which vascular risk factors are associated with the risk of developing dementia may vary with age. A new study shows that among people around age 55, the risk of developing dementia over the next 10 years was increased in those with diabetes and high blood pressure.

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For people around 65 years old, the risk was higher in those with heart disease, and for those in their 70s, diabetes and stroke. For 80-year-olds, the risk of developing dementia was increased in those with diabetes and a history of stroke, while taking blood pressure medications decreased the risk.

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MSU research could lead to new Alzheimer’s treatments

Working with tiny bacteria, Michigan State University researchers led by Lee Kroos have made a discovery that could have big implications for biology. 

The researchers revealed a new way that nature can inhibit or switch off important proteins known as intramembrane proteases — pronounced “pro tea aces” — which the team reported April 26th in the journal eLife.

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Although the Spartans made this finding using a model organism, a microbe known as Bacillus subtilis, this type of protein is highly conserved, which is how evolutionary biologists say, “it’s everywhere.” 

These types of proteases are found in organisms that span the kingdoms of life, from single-celled bacteria to people. In fact, the first intramembrane protease was discovered in humans in 1997 and perhaps the best-known member of this family, named gamma-secretase, is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. 

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Loss of Neurons, Not Lack of Sleep, Makes Alzheimer’s Patients Drowsy

The lethargy that many Alzheimer’s patients experience is caused not by a lack of sleep, but rather by the degeneration of a type of neuron that keeps us awake, according to a study that also confirms the tau protein is behind that neurodegeneration.

The study’s findings contradict the common notion that Alzheimer’s patients sleep during the day to make up for a bad night of sleep and point toward potential therapies to help these patients feel more awake.

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The data came from study participants who were patients at UC San Francisco’s Memory and Aging Center and volunteered to have their sleep monitored with electroencephalogram (EEG) and donate their brains after they died.

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Glucose Levels at Age 35 Associated with Alzheimer’s – BUSM

Living your best life at 35, ignoring cholesterol and glucose levels, may impact your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease (AD) later in life. According to Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers, lower HDL (high-density cholesterol) and high triglyceride levels measured in blood as early as age 35 are associated with a higher incidence of AD several decades later in life. They also found that high blood glucose measured between ages 51-60 is associated with risk of AD in the future.

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“While our findings confirm other studies that linked cholesterol and glucose levels measured in blood with future risk of Alzheimer’s disease, we have shown for the first time that these associations extend much earlier in life than previously thought,” explains senior author Lindsay A. Farrer, PhD, chief of biomedical genetics.

The researchers believe that although high LDL has been consistently associated with AD risk in many previous studies, the link between HDL and AD was inconclusive, perhaps because most studies examining these relationships were conducted in persons who were 55 years and older at baseline. 

This study was conducted using data obtained from participants of the Framingham Heart Study who were examined in approximately four-year intervals throughout most of their adult lives. Correlations of AD with multiple known risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes (including HDL, LDL, triglycerides, glucose, blood pressure, smoking, and body mass index) were measured at each exam and during three age periods during adulthood (35-50, 51-60, 61-70).

The researchers found that lower HDL (the good cholesterol) is predictive of AD in early (35-50 years) and middle (51-60 years) adulthood and that high glucose in the blood (a precursor of diabetes) during mid-adulthood is also predictive of AD “These findings show for the first time that cardiovascular risk factors, including HDL which has not been consistently reported as a strong risk factor for AD, contribute to future risk of AD starting as early as age 35,” says first and corresponding author Xiaoling Zhang, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine.

According to the researchers, careful management of these factors starting in early adulthood can lower one’s risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as Alzheimer’s. “Intervention targeting cholesterol and glucose management starting in early adulthood can help maximize cognitive health in later life,” adds Farrer.

Farrer also points out, “the unique design and mission of the Framingham Heart Study, which is a multi-generation, community-based, prospective study of health that began in 1948, allowed us to link Alzheimer’s to risk factors for heart disease and diabetes measured much earlier in life than possible in most other studies of cognitive decline and dementia.”

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If a Family Member Has Alzheimer’s Disease, Will I Have It, Too? – NIH

If you are asking this question, I share your concern. My family has five cases of Alzheimer’s/dementia on both sides, including a grandparent, a parent, two aunts and a cousin.

Learning about your family health history may help you know if you are at increased risk for certain diseases or medical conditions, like Alzheimer’s disease.

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Cognitive decline key factor in predicting life expectancy in Alzheimer’s

Cognitive decline is the biggest factor in determining how long patients with Alzheimer’s Disease will live after being diagnosed, according to a new study from researchers at UT Southwestern. The findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, are a first step that could help health care providers provide reliable prediction and planning assistance for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.

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Using a National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center dataset on 764 autopsy-confirmed cases, C. Munro Cullum, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Neurological Surgery, and first author Jeffrey Schaffert, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in clinical neuropsychology at UT Southwestern, identified seven factors that helped predict life expectancy variances among participants. These factors are the most predictive of how many years of life remain after diagnosis.

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Extended Napping in Seniors May Signal Dementia

Daytime napping among older people is a normal part of aging – but it may also foreshadow Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. And once dementia or its usual precursor, mild cognitive impairment, are diagnosed, the frequency and/or duration of napping accelerates rapidly, according to a new study.

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The study, led by UC San Francisco, and Harvard Medical School together with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, its teaching affiliate, departs from the theory that daytime napping in older people serves merely to compensate for poor nighttime sleep. Instead, it points to work by other UCSF researchers suggesting that dementia may affect the wake-promoting neurons in key areas of the brain, the researchers state in their paper publishing March 17 in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“We found the association between excessive daytime napping and dementia remained after adjusting for nighttime quantity and quality of sleep,” said co-senior author Yue Leng, MD, PhD, of the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

“This suggested that the role of daytime napping is important itself and is independent of nighttime sleep,” said Leng, who partnered with Kun Hu, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, in senior-authoring the paper.

Watch-Like Devices, Annual Evaluations Used to Measure Naps, Cognition

In the study, the researchers tracked data from 1,401 seniors, who had been followed for up to 14 years by the Rush Memory and Aging Project at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago. The participants, whose average age was 81 and of whom approximately three-quarters were female, wore a watch-like device that tracked mobility. Each prolonged period of non-activity from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. was interpreted as a nap.

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Blood test can predict presence of beta-amyloid in the brain

Scientists have demonstrated that a new blood test can accurately predict the presence of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, according to a new study funded in part by NIA. Published in Neurology, the study analyzed the ability of a blood test to predict the presence of Alzheimer’s disease-associated protein beta-amyloid in the brain. The new blood test, which performs comparably to existing brain scan- or spinal tap-based tests, could lower costs and expand the availability of diagnostic studies for Alzheimer’s disease.

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Alzheimer’s is characterized by the buildup of a protein called beta-amyloid, which forms sticky plaques on the brain and can cause brain cells to die. Testing for the presence of these amyloid plaques on the brain is an important part of Alzheimer’s diagnosis and research. For people experiencing memory problems, checking for amyloid in the brain helps health care providers determine whether Alzheimer’s is the potential cause. It also can help doctors determine which patients will respond to drugs that target amyloid. For people without any signs of dementia, the presence of amyloid plaques on the brain may help researchers enroll participants in clinical trials for treatments to prevent or delay the onset of cognitive symptoms.

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Poor Score on Simple Memory Test May Be Linked to Alzheimer’s Biomarkers

Among people with no memory or thinking problems, having a poor score on a simple memory test may be linked to biomarkers in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease as well as very early signs of memory impairment that precede dementia by several years, according to a study published in the February 23, 2022, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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“These findings suggest that this test can be used to improve our ability to detect cognitive decline in the stage before people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease,” said study author Ellen Grober, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. “This could be helpful in determining who to enroll in clinical trials for prevention of cognitive decline. It could also help by narrowing down those who already have signs of Alzheimer’s in the brain with a simple test rather than expensive or invasive scans or lumbar punctures.”

For the test, people are shown pictures of items and given cues about the item’s category, such as a picture of grapes with the cue of “fruit.” Then participants are asked to remember the items, first on their own, then with the category cues for any items they did not remember. This type of controlled learning helps with the mild memory retrieval problems that occur in many healthy elderly people but does not have much impact on memory for people with dementia, Grober said.

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How Music Affects Memory in Those with Dementia

Most people aren’t connected to music the way Tony Bennett is, but virtually everyone has songs they love. And music can reengage a person with dementia.

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“When my father was in hospice in the last weeks of his life, he had been unable to speak for a while and wasn’t responding to us,” says Daniel Potts, MD, FAAN, a neurologist at VA Tuscaloosa Health Care and author of A Pocket Guide for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver. “We’re a singing family, so we called everybody who used to sing with us. Most of them came, and we just sat around his bedside and sang…and he sang with us. We’ll never forget that.”

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Exercise may save your aging brain – Study

I can’t even guess how many times I have written about the benefits physical exercise has on the brain as well as the body. I would also like to repeat that my family has numerous occurrences of dementia, in general, and Alzheimer’s, in particular. My aunt and her sister both suffered from those afflictions. My father was fine and his life ended with no cognitive afflictions. However, his father was afflicted. He used to wander off and the police would pick him up and call my father to come get him. Remember, this was the early 1940’s. Additionally, while my father was fine, his sister and her daughter both had cognitive impairment. Hence, my interest in preserving my cognitive abilities into my old age.

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So, I was gratified to read the latest findings on Alzheimer’s and Dementia from the Alzheimer’s Association.

As HealthDay News reported, “Exercise helps you stay fit, hale and hearty, and researchers say it may also help you stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Now they have a better understanding of the hidden benefits that aid the brain.
“Older folks who are more physically active have higher levels of a protein that promotes better communication between the brain’s synapses, a new study reports.”
People as old as 80’s and 90’s whose brains were riddles with amyloid plaques had better mental functions if they were more active.
The study indicated that physical activity can promote resilience in the brain.
“If you can keep brain cells healthy and communicating longer, you may slow the changes you would see in disease or you may be able to decrease the vulnerability of the brain to other injury or other insult,” Heather Snyder, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association said.
To read further on the subject, check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits).

Tony

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Exercise alters brain chemistry to protect aging synapses

When elderly people stay active, their brains have more of a class of proteins that enhances the connections between neurons to maintain healthy cognition, a UC San Francisco study has found.

This protective impact was found even in people whose brains at autopsy were riddled with toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Riding with my dog on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. The annual Bike the Drive when the city closes the Drive to autos and lets us bike riders ‘have a turn.’

“Our work is the first that uses human data to show that synaptic protein regulation is related to physical activity and may drive the beneficial cognitive outcomes we see,” said Kaitlin Casaletto, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology and lead author on the study, which appears in the January 7 issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The beneficial effects of physical activity on cognition have been shown in mice but have been much harder to demonstrate in people.

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Common risk factor for Alzheimer’s may predispose carriers to severe COVID-19

A study conducted at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital suggests that the APOE4 allele may also increase cerebral microhaemorrhages related to COVID-19 and associate with mental fatigue related to long COVID.

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Roughly one-third of Finns carry the APOE4 allele, a genetic variant that predisposes carriers to Alzheimer’s disease. Globally, researchers have reported observations that show a link between APOE4 and COVID-19, both in terms of increased susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 mortality. Now, a research group at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) has investigated the link between the APOE4 allele and the severity of COVID-19 in the Finnish population.

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The different types of dementia – Infographic

Everyone over the age of 50 has concerns about their aging brain. I went through it and I know that the concerns are pervasive. Here is an infographic that explains a great deal about your brain.

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Cataract surgery may lower dementia risk

  • An observational study of more than 3,000 adults aged 65 years or older has uncovered a link between cataract surgery and a reduced risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The researchers say the results support the connection between sensory impairments, such as vision loss, and a higher risk for dementia.
  • The scientists also believe there is a link between blue light and the development of dementia.

More than 55 million peopleTrusted Source worldwide live with dementia — a syndrome that causes a decline in cognitive functions such as memory, language, and comprehension.

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Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60–80% of all people who have dementia. Scientists have carried out much research over the years examining the causes of Alzheimer’s; however, they remain unclear.

Researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle now say they have uncovered a link between cataract surgery and a lowered risk for developing dementia in older adults, including Alzheimer’s disease.

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Self-administered cognition test predicts early signs of dementia sooner

Many people experience forgetfulness as they age, but it’s often difficult to tell if these memory issues are a normal part of aging or a sign of something more serious. A new study finds that a simple, self-administered test developed by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, College of Medicine and College of Public Health can identify the early, subtle signs of dementia sooner than the most commonly used office-based standard cognitive test.   

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This earlier detection by the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE test) is critical to effective treatment, especially as new therapeutics for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are being developed and approved.   “New disease modifying therapies are available and others are currently being evaluated in clinical trials, and we know that the earlier cognitive impairment is detected, the more treatment choices a patient has and the better the treatments work,” said Dr. Douglas Scharre, director of the Division of Cognitive and Memory Disorders in the Department of Neurology at Ohio State and lead author of the study published in the journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy.

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