Dementia in the News

Alzheimer's is the second-most feared disease after cancer and many people say they would seek testing for themselves or a loved one even if they did not have symptoms, U.S. and European researchers said on Wednesday.

The findings, presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Paris on Wednesday, reflect concern about the swelling ranks of people with the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer's now affects nearly 36 million people worldwide.

New research reported today in Paris at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2011 (AAIC 2011) offers insight on the global incidence and prevalence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) - a condition involving problems with memory or another mental function severe enough to be noticeable to the affected person or to others but not serious enough to interfere with daily life. The research also identifies the conditions that most accurately predict progression from MCI to Alzheimer's disease.

For many years, an autopsy done by a pathologist was considered the best way to confirm the presence of Alzheimer's disease. But new guidelines proposed on Sunday by the U.S. National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association seek to distinguish between memory changes or dementia diagnosed by doctors when people are alive, and the changes pathologists can see in an autopsy.

On one ridge stand scientists clutching discoveries rich with possibility; along another are physicians reaching for therapies to alleviate their patients' suffering. Between them runs an abyss, its floor strewn with abandoned drug candidates and failed clinical trials.

To an Alzheimer's patient, there's nothing funny about forgetting to turn off the oven, losing a telephone number or misplacing books from the library. But turning those mishaps into punch lines might turn out to be therapeutic.

The idea that improvisational comedy might help those in the early to middle stages of Alzheimer's cope with their disease is being tested by the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre Company.

When is it appropriate to perform genetic testing for Alzheimer disease (AD), and what information do patients need to understand their risk? The June issue of Genetics in Medicine, the official peer-reviewed journal of The American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) presents a new practice guideline on genetic counseling and testing for AD. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

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.

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