Dementia in the News

People in a large area of the American South have long been known to have more strokes and to be more likely to die from them than people living elsewhere in the country.

Now, a large national study suggests the so-called stroke belt may have another troubling health distinction. Researchers have found that Southerners there also are more likely to experience a decline in cognitive ability over several years - specifically, problems with memory and orientation.

Does high blood pressure increase the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease? Although several studies have highlighted hypertension as a potential AD risk factor, getting prominent play in the press, the epidemiologic evidence to date remains surprisingly weak.

A new advance by UCLA biochemists has brought scientists one step closer to developing treatments that could delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease and prevent the sexual transmission of HIV.

The researchers report that they have designed molecular inhibitors that target specific proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease and HIV to prevent them from forming amyloid fibers, the elongated chains of interlocking proteins that play a key role in more than two dozen degenerative and often fatal diseases.

This week, WGBH is taking a look at the impact of Alzheimer's disease on the caregivers of Massachusetts' more than 300,000 Alzheimer's patients. Our five-part series looks at the emotional and physical impact of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's, exploring one family's detailed plan for dealing with the disease, and looks at different strategies for supporting patients with Alzheimer's, like assisted-living and art therapy.

There are new genetic clues on risk factors and biological causes of a rare neurodegenerative disease called progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), according to a new study from an international genetics team led by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In the largest genetics study of the disease, three new genes associated with risk for PSP were identified and two additional genetic variants affecting risk for PSP were confirmed. The paper appears online in Nature Genetics.

Scientists have designed a brain implant that restored lost memory function and strengthened recall of new information in laboratory rats - a crucial first step in the development of so-called neuroprosthetic devices to repair deficits from dementia, stroke and other brain injuries in humans.

The National Alzheimer's Project Act, Public Law 111-375 (42 U.S.C. 11225), requires that the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) establish the Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care, and Services. The Advisory Council is governed by provisions of Public Law 92-463 (5 U.S.C. Appendix 2), which sets forth standards for the formation and use of advisory committees.

Oldest-old survivor stories notwithstanding, mild cognitive problems, as wlel as full-blown dementia, are common among women 85 years and older, and their prevalence keeps going up as these women get older, according to a new study. "There was some question in the research community as to whether the incidence of dementia might plateau after a certain age," said Kristine Yaffes, University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).

Steve Riedner of Schaumberg, Ill., was a 55-year-old tool-and-die maker, a job that involves difficult mental calculations, and a frequent speaker at community meetings when he found himself increasingly at a loss for words and unable to remember numbers. He even began to have difficulty reading his own written comments.

The neurologist he consulted thought Mr. Riedner had suffered a stroke and for three years treated him with cholesterol-lowering medication. But instead of his language ability stabilizing or improving, as should happen following a stroke, it got worse.

On Sunday, May 1st, CNN will air the first Larry King special, premiering at 8pm ET/PT and will be titled "Unthinkable:  The Alzheimer's Epidemic." It's being called the disease of the 21st century as an estimated 5.4 million people have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It is the sixth-leading cause of death across all ages in the United States, but many Americans still do not know much about this illness. The one-hour special will look into Alzheimer's disease, who gets it and why, the race to find effective treatments and a possible cure.

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