Dementia in the News

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.

Of the millions of animals on Earth, including the relative handful that are considered the most intelligent - including apes, whales, crows, and owls - only humans experience the severe age-related decline in mental abilities marked by Alzheimer's disease.

To Bruce Yankner, professor of pathology and neurology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), it's pretty clear that evolution is to blame.

The use of repetitive anesthesia with isoflurace (one of the most common anesthetics by inhalation) increases the risk of developing changes similar to those observed in AD brains in mice with mutations of the amyloid precursor protein (APP).

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