Dementia in the News

Francisca Terrazas could not be left alone.

She burned her foot pouring boiling water over an ant hill in her driveway. She would wander for hours searching for aluminum cans. The effects of Alzheimer's disease had taken hold.

Minorities such as Terrazas are at greater risk for the degenerative disease, according to an Alzheimer's Association report released Tuesday. It found that African-Americans are about two times more likely and Hispanics are about 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

On a cold, wet afternoon not long ago, Aron Reznick sat in the lounge of a home for the elderly here, his silver hair neatly combed, his memory a fog. He could not remember Thanksgiving dinner with his family, though when he was given a hint - "turkey" - it came back to him, vaguely, like a shadow in the moonlight.

For years, a prevailing theory has been that one of the chief villains in Alzheimer's disease has no real function other than as a waste product that the brain never properly disposed of.

The material, a protein called beta amyloid, or A-beta, piles up into tough plaques that destroy signals between nerves. When that happens, people lose their memory, their personality changes and they stop recognizing friends and family.

People who say their lives have a purpose are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease or its precursor, mild cognitive impairment, a new study suggests.

As the population ages and dementia becomes a more frequent diagnosis, there's increasing impetus to determine the causes of the disease, associated risk factors and how to prevent it, explained study co-author Dr. Aron S. Buchman, an associate professor in the department of neurological sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Untreated vision problems in older age are associated with an increased risk of decline in cognitive function and Alzheimer's disease, data from a cohort study showed.

Uncorrected poor vistion was associated with a five- to ten-fold greater risk of Alzheimer's disease and a five-fold greater risk of cognitive decline without dementia, compared wth older people who had very good or excellent vision.

Researchers at NYU School of Medicine have found that elevated cerebrospinal fluid levels of phosphorylated tau231 (P-tau231), a damaged tau protein found in patients with Alzheimer's disease, may be an early diagnostic biomarker for Alzheimer's disease in healthy adults.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a method for analysing MR images (MRI) in just a few minutes when diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. The accuracy of the analysis is comparable to manual measurements made by skilled professionals, which are currently considered the most reliable method for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. The accurate and rapid analysis method is well suited for clinical use.

New insights on what causes Alzheimer's disease could arise from a recent discovery made by bioengineers from the University of California, San Diego. The finding concerns the infamous amyloid beta peptides -- fragments of which plaques are thought to play a role in Alzheimer's disease.

People with early-onset Alzheimer's disease and 37 other medical conditions should get federal disability checks more quickly under an expansion of the Social Security Administration's fast-track system, the agency said Thursday.

Those with a confirmed diagnosis for one of the covered diseases will be approved automatically for disability payments, sidestepping a lengthy process of denials and appeals that such patients often go through. A full five-step application and appeals process currenty averages 440 days.

Hypertension appeared to predict the progression of dementia among older adults with certain cognitive deficits, including the ability to organize thoughts and make decisions, but not others, such as those with memory dysfunction.

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