Dementia in the News

Husbands or wives who care for spouses with dementia are six times more likely to develop the memory-impairing condition than those whose spouses don't have it, according to results of a 12-year study led by Johns Hopkins, Utah State University, and Duke University. The increased risk that the researchers saw among the caregivers was on par with the power of a gene variant known to increase susceptibility to Alzheimer's disease, they report in the May Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Some people with Alzheimer's disease may be helped by a brain shunt normally used to treat another, less common neurological condition, new research suggests.

The other condition, normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH), occurs when excess cerebrospinal fluid builds up in the ventricles, or cavities, deep within the brain. The reasons for the build-up of fluid are unknown, but it tends to occur in older people, said study author Dr. Sebastian Koga, a senior resident and surgeon in the department of neurosurgery at University of Virginia Health Science Center.

For generations, the prototypical search-and-rescue case in America was Timmy in the well, with Lassie barking insistently to summon help. Lost children and adolescents - from the woods to the mall - generally outnumbered all others.

But last year for the first time, another type of search crossed into first place in Virginia, marking a profound demographic shift that public safety officials say will increasingly define the future as the nation ages:  wandering, confused dementia patients like Freda Machett.

In the fight against memory loss, nothing is certain, doctors say.

A seemingly steady stream of new research purposts to show supplements' and vitamins' promise in preventing or slowing cognitive decline, but in reality, no hard evidence supports taking any of them. At the same time, such supplements have been proved safe, barring drug interactions and other complications, so some doctors recommend trying them anyway.

With millions of aging Americans experiencing a decrease in cognitive function, the need for a natural prevention method is obvious.

Scientists found a pattern of diminished brain volume in those with a variant of the gene known as FTO.

The mutation can cause people to over-eat and is carried by almost half of Caucasians but only 16 percent of Asians, which could help explain why they suffer less from obesity.

Neurologist Professor Paul Thompson and colleagues said the brain differences could not be directly attributed to other obesity-related factors such as cholesterol levels, diabetes or high blood pressure.

Researchers have pinpointed a gene variant that nearly doubles the risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer's disease, a new study says.

A U.S. research team examined gene variations across the human genome, or full DNA sequence, of 2,269 people with late-onset Alzheimer's and 3,107 people without the disease. This research - known as a genome-wide association study - looks throughout the entire genome for small differences, or variants, in long stretches of DNA that are more prevalent in those with a particular disease or condition.

The American Academy of Neurology has issued a new guideline to help determine when people with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia should stop driving. The guideline is published in the April 12, 2010, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology and will be presented April 12, 2010, at the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting in Toronto.

More than 2,000 Manhattan residents age 65 and older have given researchers one more reason to tell us to eat more greens.

Those who adhered most to diets in dark, leafy vegetables, poultry, fish and nuts and low in red meat, butter and fatty dairy products had a 38 percent lower risk of getting Alzheimer's disease than those who followed that plan the least, according to a report today in the Archives of Neurology.

I've invited the clinical psychologist Cynthia Green, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and the author of several books on memory (including "Through the Seasons:  An Activities Book for Memory Challenged Adults and Caregivers"), to join the conversation today. I've been hearing laments about the difficulties of visiting relatives with dementia; people yearn to make that time together enjoyable and meaningful, but they can't always figure out how to connect. Dr. Green has some thoughtful suggestions. - Paula Span

 

New findings confirm atrial fibrillation (AF) is independently associated with the risk of all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's and other senile and vacular dementia types. According to a study published in the April edition of the HeartRhythm Journal, the official journal of the Heart Rhythm Society, the presence of atrial fibrillation indicated highter mortality rates in all dementia subtypes; however, mortality risk was most prominent in the youngest population studied.

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