New Hope for Alzheimers Disease

Posted on

Jul 19, 2012


Utah - Utah

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Older adults fear the possibility of developing Alzheimer's disease even more than death and with good reason: five million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, approximately 350,000 are diagnosed with the condition each year and it leads to death more often than heart disease, stroke, HIV and breast and prostate cancers combined! In the next 13 years, the number of Utahans with Alzheimer's disease will increase 127 percent making it the state with the fastest growing incidence of Alzheimer's.
These startling statistics lead one to ask: Can Alzheimer's disease be prevented or delayed? Here is the good news yes. A new study shows that half of the cases might be caused by factors people can control: exercise, smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Additionally, advanced imaging techniques now can diagnose Alzheimer's years before symptoms are noticed giving people a jump start on a treatment plan.
What is Alzheimer's Disease?
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain that causes dementia. Dementia is the deterioration of memory, language, personality and the ability to process information. Other conditions that also lead to dementia include stroke, chronic alcohol abuse, vitamin deficiencies, and Parkinson's disease.
What Causes Alzheimer's Disease?
When we are younger, the body makes amyloid plaques (clumps of protein, like a goo) that surround the brain cells but the brain is able to clear it out. As we grow older, oxidative stress on the brain cells increases inflammation which contributes to making too much amyloid plaques and to the inability to clear it away. Additionally, patients develop neurofibrillary tangles (nerve cells that become tangled and dysfunctional). The tangles and goo prevent brain cells from communicating with each other which creates the forgetting in Alzheimer's.
What are the symptoms?
Alzheimer's disease usually comes on slowly, with a gradual loss of memory and difficulty learning new information. The patient develops problems in carrying out familiar tasks, understanding concepts, and taking care of grooming and household chores. Depression may also be one of the early symptoms. Personality changes, restlessness, and disorientation may also occur, and as the disease progresses, these symptoms become more pronounced. In later stages, there is a characteristic lack of concern for appearance or body function, significant sleep disturbances, extreme irritability, and loss of the ability to speak. Gradually, the patient stops eating or drinking regularly.
What Can Be Done?
The closest we have to a cure for Alzheimer's is prevention. But this is good news. This means that people have control over their chances of developing this deadly disease with exercise, a diet high in omega 3 fatty acids, colorful fruits and vegetables, spices such as turmeric, oregano and garlic, vanilla beans, and a moderate amount of caffeine. New imaging technology now allows people to get screened decades before any symptoms begin, enabling early intervention to protect the healthy brain and a delay in the onset of the disease. Drugs are being tested that may someday offer even more hope for patients and families, especially for the one percent that may be genetically at greater risk.
Editors Note: This article was submitted by Denae Bybee, LPN and owner of Senior Helpers Utah and may be reached at 801-912-8400 or by e-mail at For more information visit

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