Alzheimer's Disease - Causes, Treatments and Prevention.
Yes, it appears you can reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer's disease!
Alzheimer's disease has many causes, with each cause having it's own preventative treatment. Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease often appear years after the disease has been active, at which point treatment is focused on slowing it's progression, rather than on trying to find a cure for the Alzheimer's disease. However, Alzheimer's disease treatments are being developed that may halt or reverse the damage caused by existing Alzheimer's disease.
UPDATE, Nov, 2007: Dr. Vassilios Papadopoulos discovered spirostenols - very similar to cholesterol - as a possible treatment intervention for the amyloid plaque that occurs in Alzheimer's disease.
For the most part, alzheimer's disease drug treatments are essentially ineffective - Razadyne®, Namenda®, Exelon®, Aricept®, and Cognex® - providing only a slowing down in disease progression and some symptom relief.
Using rats, Samaritan Pharmaceutical researchers found that Caprospinol - a spirostenol - removed amyloid plaque and restored the memory to be just as good as it once was. Caprospinol also appears to to be able to restore thinking and reasoning skills that diminished as a result of amyloid plaque build up..
UPDATE, July, 2006: A new Alzheimer drug, developed in Australia, may soon be released onto the market. Although it cannot reverse the syptoms of Alzheimer's disease, it can apparently stop the Alzheimer's disease dead in it's tracks: Prevent the Alzheimer's disease from progressing. More as I find out. Been almost a year now, so this hope for Alzheimer's disease appears to have gone by the wayside, like so many other promising drugs for Alzheimer's disease.
1... Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer's medication and nursing homes.
For nursing home patients with Alzheimer's disease, 45% are given drugs to control their behavior. When given quetiapine to control their behavior, Alzheimer's patients experienced a 100% increase in their cognitive decline. Alzheimer's nursing home patients taking rivatigmine to control their behavior, showed little or no change. Risperidone and Olanzapine are another couple of drugs that nursing home staff commonly use to medicate and control patients with Alzheimer's disease, but they may place the Alzheimer's patient at increased risk of stroke. BMJ, 2005. In short, the people who care for Alzheimer patients in nursing homes, need to be vigilant about the medication doctors prescribe.
On another note, Transthyretin, is a protein which appears to intercept beta-amyloid and stops it damaging the neurons. Dr. Jeff Johnson, et al., 2004. This is important, as beta-amyloid appears to be a key player in Alzheimer's disease. Transthyretin may prove to be an effective cure or treatment for Alzheimer's disease.
The Earlier Treatment Begins, The Better
2... The need to start Alzheimer's disease treatment very early.
Dr. Ira Lott et al.; year 2001, had this to say about anti-oxidants as an Alzheimer's treatment preventative : Oxidation is the initial reaction of the body to the newly formed beta-amyloid and plaques that occasionally occur in the brain. It is thought that this oxidation reaction to the placques etc, may be the preventable precursor to dementia seen in Alzheimer's disease. As the oxidation continues, it may lead to inflammation in the brain, which in turn worsens the dementia in all clients ... Providing the correct anti-oxidants at the right time, may enable one to prevent Alzheimer's disease in people ... The antioxidants may need to be given to the person when still a child ... The oxidation stage can start when a person is very young. This in turn suggests, that the use of appropriate antioxidants during childhood may be a worthwhile preventative measure. Please note the folowing precaution I put together: The antioxidant approach: can be very dangerous if one uses megadoses of antioxidants. Vitamin E, in megadose form, over a long period, can be poisonous. Excessive antioxidant intake also has been found to reduce the uptake of other important vitmains and so can lead to vitmain deficiency, particularly in the B vitamins, which may then worsen Alzheimer's disease.
3... Treatments to prevent or slow Alzheimer's disease.
Controversy exists regarding treatments to prevent or slow Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease may have many causative factors. The following information on Alzheimer's Disease may be of value to you:
a... Iron deficiency and Alzheimer's disease.
Iron was believed to quicken or cause the damaging oxidation of the brain, which was then assumed to cause Alzheimer's disease. The problem with this is, is it was more a theory of Alzheimer's disease. There is evidence that plant derived drugs have less damaging side effects than ones made from mined ingredients. My position on Alzheimer's disease and iron: Don't lower it's intake unless blood tests suggests it to be too high. Iron is needed for oxygen transport to occur in the blood, which is vitally important for good health of the brain. Too low an iron level in the blood is called anaemia and this can cause significant mental retardation, the last thing one wants in addition to an Alzheimer's sufferers already lowered intelligence.
b... DHA, High LDL cholesterol, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.
Cholesterol is possibly many more times more relevant than iron in causing Alzheimer's. Research suggests that what is bad or good for the heart is bad or good for the brain - high cholesterol has been linked to Alzheimer's. Fish oil capsules/liquid/margarines which are high in Omega 3's - DHA etc - may be of help in reducing cholestrol, as may be plant sterols.
Researchers have found that DHA decreases levels of the pathogenic Abeta peptides within the brain that are linked with Alzheimer's disease (N Bazan, et al, 2005), demonstrating that DHA has a positive role to play as an Alzheimer's treatment option.
Preventing pre-diabetes from turning into diabetes also reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease. The primary way to do this is through diet and losing weight.
For example, according to Dr. Gandy, et al, 2005, metabolic problems that increase the risk for heart disease, such as obesity, uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia also increase the risk for Alzheimer's Disease.
Another group of researchers followed patients with Alzheimer's disease over a three year period. All patients with Alzheimer's disease deteriorated, but those patients with Alzheimer's disease given cholesterol lowering drugs deteriorated 33% more slowly; Statin cholesterol lowering drugs were used to slow the Alzheimer's disease. BMJ, 2005.
Vitamin B and Folate
c... Vitamin B and folate and Alzheimer's disease.
Also, supplementing with folic acid, B12 and B6 may help prevent or treat Alzheimer's disease as homocysteine, which is normally elevated in the brains of Alzheimer's sufferers, can be reduced by these vitamins. Paul S. Aisen, et al, 2003 .
d... Vitamin E and Alzheimer's disease.
The use of Vitamin E in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease goes back some years now, with the results for Alzheimer's sufferers being mixed - sometimes it seems to work in slowing the progression of the Alzheimer's disease, other times it doesn't appear to achieve anything for the Alzheimer's sufferer. "Our findings indicate that an antioxidant is important to cure or prevent disease only if given at a very early stage...If given when the disease is already established the chances of a positive effect are very small." D.Praticò, et al, 2004 (based on their study of mice).
e... Exercise and Alzheimer's.
Exercising three times a week has been linked to a 32% reduction in the chance of getting Alzheimer's. Eric B. Larson, et al, 2006.
f... A boring life can lead to Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's can be caused by a meaningless life: People, when used in meaningful employment, (as opposed to monotonous work etc) tend to avert Alzheimer's development for much longer. The more we use our brains, the more resilient to Alzheimer's disease we are. Some believe it is because we enrich the neural connectedness within the brain, so that although the brain may be failing, the greater abundance of neural interconnectedness means that the death of some neurons through Alzheimer's is not as important, as other neurons are able to fill the gap.
g... Alzheimer's disease / dementia appears to be related to obesity and overweight.
Well, a study has linked Alzheimer's disease with mid life obesity / overweight. If you were overweight, you were about 35% more likely to get Alzheimer's disease. If you were obese, it jumped to about 74%. However, it was also found that if you were a middle aged woman and obese your risk for Alzheimer's was doubled. So, at this point, it appears that women are mainly at greater risk of developing Alzheimer's because of obesity, where as overweight / obese males are generally not at much greater risk of developing Alzheimer's.
However, another study of nearly 9,000 individuals which were monitored for 30 years, revealed that males and females who were overweight or obese in their 40s, were more prone to suffering from Alzheimer's disease later in life. The most obese were almost three times more likely to get Alzheimer's disease. "... These findings are important because obesity and overweight are treatable and modifiable risk factors ..." Rachel A. Whitmer, PhD, of the Kaiser Permanente Foundation Research Institute in Oakland, CA, year 2006.
Incidentally, my mother was overweight, perhaps obese, through out the time I knew her. So, the inference is clear, reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease by reducing weight to within normal levels. A sedentary life style may therefore cause Alzheimer's disease. See my section on rapid weight loss and exercise for weight loss for possible help on this point. Remember though, that obesity and overweight are often signs of a neglected body. Long term overweight or obesity often affects blood cholesterol levels badly, brings on diabetes ( 2 out of 3 diabetics die of stroke or heart attack ), brings on metabolic syndrome, increases blood pressure. What the study really showed, I believe, was the connection between lack of fitness and the onslaught of Alzheimer's disease, with the lack of fitness causing the Alzheimer's.
Another study has shown, that at least in mice anyway, reducing food consumption by 40% can slow some aspects of Alzheimer's disease very rapidly. C Finch, et al, 2004. The suggestion is that whereas over eating can contribute to the risk for Alzheimer's disease, restricting the diet may decrease the risk and or progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease as you can probably see, can have many causes. The important thing is that there are some things we appear to be able to do that appears to lessen the risk of us getting Alzheimer's. Remember that you have to do your own research, talk with doctors and make your own mind up on things Alzheimer's. I report what I find, you may find something quite different on Alzheimer's disease - if you do, please email me email@example.com with DS in the topic line.
h... Alzheimer's disease and dementia and early life head trauma.
The risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia was increased by about 200% when, as a young adult, a moderate head injury is experienced. The more severe the head injury, the higher the Alzheimer's risk. Those who had head injuries and remained unconscious or amnesic for one day or more were at 400% greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Plassman, et al, 2000.
Other researchers, using mice, found that repetitive concussions can cause and speed up the progress of Alzheimer's disease. K Uryu, et al, 2002. This suggests activities, such as boxing, martial arts, at an individual level, may need to be relooked at.
i... Cigarette smoking and Alzheimer's disease.
Chronic nicotine exposure increases neurofibrillary tangles within the brain, which are a typical symptom of Alzheimer's disease. S Oddo, et al., 2005. Like they say, smoking is a health hazard.
j... Alzheimer's disease and the Herpes virus.
The connection between the herpes virus ( cold sore on mouth type ) and Alzheimer's disease is becoming better understood. The herpes virus releases chemicals in the brain that appear to cause the brain to develop abnormal twisted fibers similiar to what is found Alzheimer's sufferers. Frank M. LaFerla, et al, 2000.
k... Testosterone and Estrogen decline may lead to Alzheimer's disease.
The normal age related decline in testosterone in men and estrogen in women, appears to play a causative role in the development of ALzheimer's disease. Christian Pike, et al., 2004.
l... The aluminium myth of Alzheimer's disease.
As people with Alzheimer's disease were found to have increased concentrations of aluminium in the brain, researchers quickly jumped to the conclusion that Alzheimer's disease was caused by cooking in aluminium pots and pans. Further research on aluminium and Alzheimer's disease showed that the intake of aluminium was not related to the development of Alzheimer's disease, rather they believed that aluminium was the byproduct of the Alzheimer's disease decay process in the brain, not the cause of the Alzheimer's process. They point out that people living in areas with high aluminium content in the water, soil etc, were at no greater risk of developing Alzheimer's than any one else.
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