Tag Archives: dementia

Cholesterol may affect brain functions – Study

Having lost three family members to Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, I was fascinated by this information from researchers in Berlin.

A study led by researchers at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) and the Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics at the Faculty of Medicine in Charité Hospital, Berlin, published in the journal Nature Communications, demonstrates that the cholesterol present in cell membranes can interfere with the function of an important brain membrane protein, through a previously unknown mode of interaction. Specifically, cholesterol is capable of regulating the activity of the adenosine receptor, by invading it and accessing the active site. This will allow new ways of interacting with these proteins to be devised that in the future could lead to drugs for treating diseases like Alzheimer’s.

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The adenosine receptor belongs to the GPCR family (G Protein-Coupled Receptors), a large group of proteins located in cell membranes, which are key in the transmission of signals and communication between cells. GPCRs are therefore involved in the majority of important physiological processes, including the interpretation of sensory stimuli such as vision, smell, and taste, the regulation of the immune and inflammatory system, and behavior modulation. Continue reading

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Tea drinking may help prevent dementia – Harvard

Good news for tea drinkers or all stripes. A study in the December 2016 Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging showed that drinking tea frequently is associated with a lower risk of dementia, especially for people who are genetically predisposed to the disease, Harvard Men’s Health Watch reported.

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Researchers followed 957 older adults, average age 65, who were part of the Singapore Longitudinal Aging Study. Of these, 69% drank tea on a frequent basis. After a five-year period, the researchers found that the tea drinkers had a 50% lower risk of dementia. This is consistent with earlier findings that showed tea consumers scored higher on various cognitive tests.

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Genes Associated With Resilience Against Brain Pathology Identified

Having had three family members who suffered from some form of dementia I am highly motivated to find out all I can about this scourge that devastates mostly seniors. The following is from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.
Genes help cognition withstand damage in brain from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s

The pathologies (damage) in the brain that stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions cause in older adults only partially explain the memory loss, reduced reasoning ability and other cognitive impairments that result from these conditions. Little is known about why the effects of brain pathology vary between people who develop it.

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Now researchers have discovered two genes, known as UNC5C and ENC1, that are associated with aging individuals having better memory and brain function than would be expected, given the amount of pathologies that accumulated in their brains. They reported their findings in an article published today in the journal PLOS Medicine. Continue reading

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Rapid middle age blood pressure drops linked to dementia in old age – Study

Regular readers know how much I follow developments in the study of the brain. Here is some fresh fascinating info from Johns Hopkins.

Summary: Researchers report orthostatic hypotension could cause lasting damage to the brain because it can reduce blood flow to the brain.

Middle-aged people who experience temporary blood pressure drops that often cause dizziness upon standing up may be at an increased risk of developing cognitive decline and dementia 20 years later, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests.

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The findings, being presented March 10 at the American Heart Association’s EPI|LIFESTYLE 2017 Scientific Sessions in Portland, Ore., suggest that these temporary episodes – known as orthostatic hypotension – may cause lasting damage, possibly because they reduce needed blood flow to the brain. Previous research has suggested a connection between orthostatic hypotension and cognitive decline in older people, but this appears to be the first to look at long-term associations. (my emphasis)

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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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Delirium could accelerate dementia-related mental decline

It ain’t easy being green, according to Kermit. Turns out it ain’t so easy being old either.

New research by UCL and University of Cambridge shows delirium may have long-lasting consequences, including accelerating the dementia process

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When hospitalized, people can become acutely confused and disorientated. This condition, known as delirium, affects a quarter of older patients and new research by UCL and University of Cambridge shows it may have long-lasting consequences, including accelerating the dementia process.

The study, published today in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, is the first to show the multiplying effects of delirium and dementia in these patients.

Episodes of delirium in people who are not known to have dementia, might also reveal dementia at its earliest stages, the research found.

While both delirium and dementia are important factors in cognitive decline among the elderly, delirium is preventable and treatable through dedicated geriatric care.

Further research is needed to understand exactly how delirium interacts with dementia, and how this could be blocked.

“If delirium is causing brain injury in the short and long-term, then we must increase our efforts to diagnose, prevent and treat delirium. Ultimately, targeting delirium could be a chance to delay or reduce dementia” said Dr. Daniel Davis (MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL), who led the research while at the University of Cambridge.

Scientists looked at three European populations – in Finland, Cambridge and UK-wide – and examined brain specimens in 987 people aged 65 and older. Each person’s memory, thinking and experience of delirium had been recorded over 10 years towards the end of their life.

When these were linked with pathology abnormalities due to Alzheimer’s and other dementias, those with both delirium and dementia-changes had the most severe change in memory.

Dr Davis added: “Unfortunately, most delirium goes unrecognized. In busy hospitals, a sudden change in confusion not be noticed by hospital staff. Patients can be transferred several times and staff often switch over – it requires everyone to ‘think delirium’ and identify that a patient’s brain function has changed.”

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High cholesterol intake and eggs do not increase risk of memory disorders

I am now and  have been for years a big fan of eggs. A hundred years ago, it seems, I worked on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trading floor where I covered the egg futures market along with pork bellies, live cattle and live hog futures. In that capacity, I learned a great deal about eggs from their production to our consumption. I have posted on them numerous times. Here are a few: Eating eggs is good for you. I wrote that in the first month of this blog’s existence. Feel free to type e-g-g-s in the search box at the right to read more posts on eggs.

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A new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows that a relatively high intake of dietary cholesterol, or eating one egg every day, is not associated with an elevated risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, no association was found in persons carrying the APOE4 gene variant that affects cholesterol metabolism and increases the risk of memory disorders. APOE4 is common in Finland. The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Continue reading

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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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The three stages of Alzheimer’s Disease – NIA

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. As a person with family members on both sides who have suffered from dementia in general and Alzheimer’s in particular, I wanted to share this with you, from the Alzheimer’s Disease Education & Referral center.

The first symptoms of Alzheimer’s vary from person to person. For many, difficulty with tasks like word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may signal the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Typically, Alzheimer’s progresses in three stages: Continue reading

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What are some actions that prevent or delay Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

The question of brain games and other cerebral activities to prevent or delay dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease was taken up by The Ask the Expert column in the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry.

“What kinds of brain activities did we find to be beneficial? While more research is needed to learn the best types of activities, the studies we reviewed included a wide range of possibilities….”

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“Here are some ideas:
•    Read a novel, a non-fiction book, a magazine, or newspaper.
•    Play board games with your children or grandkids.
•    Volunteer for a local organization.
•    Host a weekly card game for friends.
•    Register for an adult education class at your local college.
•    Look for art, cooking or other fun classes in your community.
•    Play video games with a young person in your life.
•    Attend a play or visit a museum.

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Can Ayurveda Help with Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

Because my family has suffered from both Alzheimer’s and dementia, I am especially sensitive to anything that might reduce my vulnerability to them. I really  liked the Tips to Nourish Your Brain at the end.

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Please be sure to check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) for more information.

Tony

STAYING HEALTHY WITH AYURVEDA

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia, a brain disorder affecting the parts of the brain controlling thought, memory and language. About 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s and the number of cases are expected to quadruple by 2050. Ayurveda, the original health science of India, offers much needed knowledge on how to reverse aging trends, even in cases of brain deterioration such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Early detection provides a greater opportunity to delay or reverse the existing symptoms of aging disorders. Ayurveda, offers a comprehensive system of effective interventions.

A consultation with an Ayurvedic health expert using the ancient technique of Ayurvedic pulse assessment can help with early detection. Pulse assessment can help identify specific imbalances in the body which can predispose an individual to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders. This individual diagnosis is a powerful tool for designing an individualized treatment program and…

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Diet plus exercise can reduce Alzheimer’s protein build-ups, UCLA study shows

Regular readers know that I have a particular interest in Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia as I have lost several family members to them. I am 76 years old and want to maintain my mental faculties through my senior years. That’s one of the reasons I stress exercise and its positive influence on the brain so often on the blog. See my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits)  for more.

So I was thrilled to learn that UCLA has some positive news on that front.

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A study by researchers at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior has found that a healthy diet, regular physical activity and a normal body mass index  can reduce the incidence of protein build-ups that are associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. (my emphasis) Continue reading

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Stave Off Cognitive Decline With Seafood – Rush

Regular readers know that I have lost three family members to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia in general.  So, my ears prick up when I hear of anything that might mitigate against these afflictions.  Rush University Medical Center has reported just that.

Eating a meal of seafood or other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids at least once a week may protect against age-related memory loss and thinking problems in older people, according to a team of researchers at Rush University Medical Center and Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

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Their research findings were published in the May 4 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Judith Zwartz Foundation.

The age-related memory loss and thinking problems of participants in the study who reported eating seafood less than once a week declined more rapidly compared to those who ate at least one seafood meal per week.

“This study helps show that while cognitive abilities naturally decline as part of the normal aging process, there is something that we can do to mitigate this process,” says Martha Clare Morris, ScD, a Rush nutritional epidemiologist and senior author of the paper.

Four types of seafood, five types of brain function

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How to Reduce Your Chances of Alzheimer’s – Harvard

I have mentioned numerous times how much concern I have regarding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease because three of my close family members suffered from one or the other of them. To clarify: Dementia is not a disease but a group of different diseases characterized by the gradual worsening of cognitive abilities. Dementia is seen across all ethnic groups and increasingly so with advancing age. Among 65–69-year-olds, about 2 percent are afflicted, with this figure doubling for every five years of age. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.

Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. In fact, Alzheimer’s is the second most feared disease, behind only cancer. So, I am not alone in my concern. Although it is said a person with Alzheimer’s can live from two to 20 years, my understanding is that few make it beyond 7 years. Harvard Medical School has released a new study on it.

They point to age, gender and family history as factors outside our control regarding the disease. On a positive note, everything I support in this blog works to lower Alzheimer’s risk – exercise, watching your weight and eating right.

Harvard said, “While there are no surefire ways to prevent Alzheimer’s, by following the five steps below you may lower your risk for this disease — and enhance your overall health as well.

1. Maintain a healthy weight. Cut back on calories and increase physical activity if you need to shed some pounds.

2. Check your waistline. To accurately measure your waistline, use a tape measure around the narrowest portion of your waist (usually at the height of the navel and lowest rib). A National Institutes of Health panel recommends waist measurements of no more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.

3. Eat mindfully. Emphasize colorful, vitamin-packed vegetables and fruits; whole grains; fish, lean poultry, tofu, and beans and other legumes as protein sources; plus healthy fats. Cut down on unnecessary calories from sweets, sodas, refined grains like white bread or white rice, unhealthy fats, fried and fast foods, and mindless snacking. Keep a close eye on portion sizes, too.

4. Exercise regularly. This simple step does great things for your body. Regular physical activity helps control weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, biking, rowing), can also help chip away total body fat and abdominal fat over time. Aim for 2 1/2 to 5 hours weekly of brisk walking (at 4 mph). Or try a vigorous exercise like jogging (at 6 mph) for half that time.

5. Keep an eye on important health numbers. In addition to watching your weight and waistline, ask your doctor whether your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar are within healthy ranges. Exercise, weight loss if needed, and medications (if necessary) can help keep these numbers on target.” For more on ways to prevent Alzheimer’s you can order A Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease from Harvard.

Tony

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New study suggests rethink of dementia causes

Since I have both Alzheimer’s and dementia on both sides of my family tree, I am always interested in studies on the subject.

University of Adelaide researchers have developed a new theory for the causes of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases, involving an out-of-control immune system.

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Published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, the researchers have assembled strong evidence that the neurological decline common to these diseases is caused by ‘auto-inflammation’, where the body’s own immune system develops a persistent inflammatory response and causes brain cells to die.

“Dementia, including the most common form, Alzheimer’s Disease, and related neuro-degenerative conditions are dramatically rising in frequency as people live longer and our population ages,” says study lead Professor Robert Richards, from the University of Adelaide’s School of Biological Sciences. “Australia is predicting that by 2050 there will be almost double the number of people with dementia, and the United States similarly says there will be twice as many.

“Currently, we have no effective treatments to assist the millions of affected people, and these diseases are an enormous burden on families and the public health care system.”

Previously, researchers have focused on the role of protein deposits called amyloid plaques that lodge in the brain of Alzheimer’s affected people. But it is now clear that this is an inadequate explanation for Alzheimer’s Disease.

There are many distinct forms of neuro-degeneration including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Diseases. These conditions are distinguished by the different types of brain nerve cells that are first affected and by the symptoms that first appear. However, as all of these diseases progress, they become more similar.

Professor Richards believes that instead of many different mechanisms, each disease has the same underlying mechanism, and common pathway of nerve cell loss.

“Our interest in the body’s own (innate) immune system as the culprit began when we discovered that immune system agents become activated in a laboratory model of Huntington’s Disease,” he says. “Remarkably, researchers from other laboratories were at the same time reporting similar features in other neuro-degenerative diseases. When we pulled the evidence together, it made a very strong case that uncontrolled innate immunity is indeed the common cause.”

The innate immune system is the first line of defense in cells, and normally distinguishes molecules that belong to the body from foreign, disease-causing, molecules. It is an alarm and response system with a self-destruct mechanism to contain and eliminate invaders or abnormal cells, like cancer.

Malfunctions can occur because of various triggers including genetic mutations, infection, toxins or physical injury, all of which have been linked with different forms of neuro-degeneration. Initially the innate immune system protects the tissue against these triggers, but prolonged activation becomes self-perpetuating, causing brain cell death to occur.

“We hope this new way of understanding neuro-degeneration will lead to new treatments,” Professor Richards says. “We now need to further investigate the immune signaling molecules, to identify new drug targets that will delay the onset and/or halt the progression of these devastating diseases.”

While the jury is still out on these findings, I would recommend continuing along previously successful lines. Check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) to learn more.

Tony

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