828cloud

Data, Info and News of Life and Economy

Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

Lots of Napping Could Raise a Senior’s Odds for Alzheimer’s

Denise Mann wrote . . . . . . . . .

Taking longer or more frequent naps during the day may sound enticing, but it may be a harbinger of Alzheimer’s disease.

Older adults who nap throughout the day may be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, while napping may also be a consequence of advancing Alzheimer’s, a new study suggests.

“Daytime napping and Alzheimer’s disease seem to be driving each other’s changes in a bi-directional way,” said study author Dr. Yue Leng. She is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.

The bottom line? “Older adults, and especially those with Alzheimer’s disease, should pay more attention to their daytime napping behaviors,” Leng said.

There are several potential ways that daytime napping and Alzheimer’s may be linked.

“It could be a reflection of underlying Alzheimer’s pathology at the preclinical stage that affects the wake-promoting network and contributes to increased daytime sleepiness,” she said. “Excessive daytime napping might also impact and interact with nighttime sleep, resulting in altered 24-hour circadian rhythms, which has also been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.”

For the study, more than 1,400 older Americans, average age 81, wore a watch-like activity monitor for two weeks every year. Any prolonged period of no activity from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. was considered a nap. Participants also underwent a battery of neurological tests each year.

When the study started, more than three-quarters of participants showed no signs of any cognitive impairment, 19.5% had mild cognitive impairment, and slightly more than 4% had Alzheimer’s disease.

Daily napping increased by about 11 minutes per year among folks who didn’t develop cognitive impairment during roughly 14 years of follow-up. The greater the increase in naps, the more quickly memory and thinking skills declined, the findings showed.

The rate of increase in naps doubled after a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment and nearly tripled after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the report published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Another part of the study sought to determine if napping is a risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. To answer this question, the researchers compared participants who had normal memories and thinking skills at the start of the study but developed Alzheimer’s disease to their counterparts whose thinking remained stable during the study. They found that older people who napped more than an hour a day had a 40% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than just memory and thinking skills, said study author Dr. Aron Buchman. He’s a professor of neurology at Rush University Medical Center and a neurologist at Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, in Chicago.

In some, this disease may steal memories, but in others, it may result in sleep issues. In others, it could affect motor function, Buchman said.

“More studies are needed to better understand the relationship between napping and Alzheimer’s disease. But it’s possible that improving sleep may be a way of modifying the course of Alzheimer’s disease and its manifold manifestations,” he added.

Experts who were not involved with the study caution that it is way too early to say napping increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Study patients could have already had pre-clinical signs of Alzheimer’s disease in their brains, said Ricardo Osorio, director of the Center for Sleep and Brain Health at NYU Langone in New York City. “At age 80, even with no symptoms, it is quite common to have Alzheimer’s pathology in the brain,” he explained.

In the future, research should look at napping patterns in younger people and follow them to see who develops Alzheimer’s disease and who doesn’t, Osorio suggested.

People can nap for reasons that have nothing to do with Alzheimer’s disease, he said. Daytime naps may be a result of sleep apnea, overexertion during the day, or even depression and loneliness. “We need to tease out the other things that may cause people to nap more before drawing conclusions,” Osorio added.

There are other caveats as well, said Dr. Derek Chong, vice chair of neurology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“This study was performed in Chicago, where the society tends to have only one sleep period at night,” Chong said. “Many other cultures and societies have a siesta or midday nap that is often longer than one hour long, and some of these cultures are known to have slow aging, so these results may not be applicable worldwide.”

Still, this study does call attention to the health consequences of poor sleep, he noted.

“Even though the study does not tell us the cause for why people need to nap more, it should remind us the importance of daytime stimulation, seeking help with depression, and high-quality sleep, and checking with your doctor for things like sleep apnea, especially when we are sleepy during the day,” Chong said.


Source: HealthDay

Having a Poor Score on a Simple Memory Test May be Linked to Alzheimer’s Biomarkers

Among people with no memory or thinking problems, having a poor score on a simple memory test may be linked to biomarkers in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease as well as very early signs of memory impairment that precede dementia by several years, according to a study published in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“These findings suggest that this test can be used to improve our ability to detect cognitive decline in the stage before people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease,” said study author Ellen Grober, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. “This could be helpful in determining who to enroll in clinical trials for prevention of cognitive decline. It could also help by narrowing down those who already have signs of Alzheimer’s in the brain with a simple test rather than expensive or invasive scans or lumbar punctures.”

For the test, people are shown pictures of items and given cues about the item’s category, such as a picture of grapes with the cue of “fruit.” Then participants are asked to remember the items, first on their own, then with the category cues for any items they did not remember. This type of controlled learning helps with the mild memory retrieval problems that occur in many healthy elderly people but does not have much impact on memory for people with dementia, Grober said.

The study involved 4,484 people with no cognitive problems and an average age of 71. The participants were divided into five groups based on their scores on the test, or stages zero through four. Stages zero through two reflect increasing difficulty with retrieving memories or items learned and precede dementia by five to eight years. In these stages, people have increasing trouble remembering the items on their own, but they continue to be able to remember items when given cues. In the third and fourth stages, people cannot remember all of the items even after they are given cues. These stages precede dementia by one to three years.

The study participants also had brain scans to look for the beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that are markers of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as to measure the volume of areas of the brain associated with Alzheimer’s pathology.

Half of the participants had no memory issues. Half had retrieval issues, issues for storage of memories or both.

The researchers found that people who tested in the third and fourth stages were likely to have higher amounts of beta-amyloid in their brains than people in the lower stages. They were also more likely to have a lower volume in the hippocampus and other areas of the brain associated with Alzheimer’s pathology.

At stage zero, 30% of people had beta-amyloid plaques, compared to 31% at stage one, 35% at stage two, 40% at stage three and 44% at stage four.

Grober said, “This system allows us to distinguish between the following: the difficulty people have retrieving memories when they are still able to create and store memories in their brains, which occurs in the very early stages before dementia can be diagnosed; and the memory storage problems that occur later in this predementia phase when people can no longer store the memories in their brains.”

A limitation of the study was that the participants had a high level of education, so the results may not be applicable to the general population.


Source: American Academy of Neurology

Treasure House

Dr. Avitzur wrote . . . . . . . . .

When I was an intern, I treated a patient in the emergency department who’d had a stroke and was unable to speak. The patient’s family had shared with us his love of baseball, so one of my colleagues, also a fan, started singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” to him. My patient joined right in and sang every word with so much gusto that I remember the incident to this day.

Such quirks of the brain have inspired many neurologists. Best-selling author and neurologist Oliver Sacks, who wrote Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain in 2007, described the phenomenon in an interview for this publication the following year: “With music, there’s something very special because of its intense coherence. Every bar of a piece naturally follows a previous bar and leads to the next, and the music is held together by a sense of expectancy. So even if one doesn’t know a piece, one feels where it is going.

“I like to imagine a sort of storage box, a treasure house deep in the brain,” Sacks told us, “in the basal ganglia, the cerebellum—parts of the brain which are not usually affected by stroke or brain damage.”

Music can reengage people with a variety of brain disorders, including dementia, as depicted in the story about Tony Bennett, the legendary singer whose career has spanned more than 70 years. As you will read below, the performer transforms onstage; he understands what he is singing and totally connects with his audience. Bennett demonstrates that music is therapeutic and can be used strategically, according to our experts, who describe how music affects memory and how to take advantage of its power to calm and soothe.

Like many people dealing with neurologic conditions, the Bennett family initially kept Tony’s diagnosis private, deciding to share it publicly later to show people that Alzheimer’s disease does not mean life is over.


Source: Brain and Life


Read more:

Tony Bennett Demonstrates the Power of Music Against Alzheimer’s Disease . . . . .

MIND Diet May Guard Against Alzheimer’s


Enlarge image . . . . .

The MIND diet may help older people ward off Alzheimer’s disease, a new study finds.

Developed by the late Martha Clare Morris, who was a Rush University nutritional epidemiologist, and her colleagues, the MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets.

People in the study who followed the MIND diet even later in life did not develop thinking problems, researchers say.

“Some people have enough plaques and tangles in their brains to have a postmortem diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, but they do not develop clinical dementia in their lifetime,” said researcher Dr. Klodian Dhana, an assistant professor in the division of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Rush Medical College in Chicago. “Some have the ability to maintain cognitive function despite the accumulation of these pathologies in the brain, and our study suggests that the MIND diet is associated with better cognitive functions independently of brain pathologies related to Alzheimer’s disease.”

For the study, researchers followed nearly 600 people who completed annual evaluations and tests to see if they had memory and thinking problems. Starting in 2004, participants were given an annual food frequency questionnaire about how often they ate 144 food items in the past year.

The MIND diet has 15 components, including 10 brain-healthy food groups and five unhealthy groups that include, red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets and fried or fast food.

The MIND diet is rich in whole grains, green leafy and other vegetables every day. People are also encouraged to have a glass of wine and snack on nuts, and eat beans every other day or so, eat poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week.

But people must watch their consumption of unhealthy foods, including limiting butter to less than 1 1/2 teaspoons a day and eating less than one serving a week of sweets and pastries, whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food.

“We found that a higher MIND diet score was associated with better memory and thinking skills independently of Alzheimer’s disease pathology and other common age-related brain pathologies. The diet seemed to have a protective capacity and may contribute to cognitive resilience in the elderly,” Dhana said in a university news release.

“Diet changes can impact cognitive functioning and risk of dementia, for better or worse,” he continued. “There are fairly simple diet and lifestyle changes a person could make that may help to slow cognitive decline with aging, and contribute to brain health.”

The report was published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.


Source: HealthDay

Time Until Dementia Symptoms Appear Can be Estimated Via Brain Scan

Tamara Bhandari wrote . . . . . . . . .

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed an approach to estimating when a person with no cognitive symptoms will start showing signs of Alzheimer’s dementia based on data from brain scans and the person’s age.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed an approach to estimating when a person who is likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, but has no cognitive symptoms, will start showing signs of Alzheimer’s dementia.

The algorithm, available online in the journal Neurology, uses data from a kind of brain scan known as amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) to gauge brain levels of the key Alzheimer’s protein amyloid beta.

In those who eventually develop Alzheimer’s dementia, amyloid silently builds up in the brain for up to two decades before the first signs of confusion and forgetfulness appear. Amyloid PET scans already are used widely in Alzheimer’s research, and this algorithm represents a new way of analyzing such scans to approximate when symptoms will arise. Using a person’s age and data from a single amyloid PET scan, the algorithm yields an estimate of how far a person has progressed toward dementia — and how much time is left before cognitive impairment sets in.

“I perform amyloid PET scans for research studies, and when I tell cognitively normal individuals about positive results, the first question is always, ‘How long do I have until I get dementia?’,” said senior author Suzanne Schindler, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology. “Until now, the answer I’d have to give was something like, ‘You have an increased risk of developing dementia in the next five years.’ But what does that mean? Individuals want to know when they are likely to develop symptoms, not just whether they are at higher risk.”

Schindler and colleagues analyzed amyloid PET scans from 236 people participating in Alzheimer’s research studies through Washington University’s Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center. The participants were an average of 67 years old at the beginning of the study. All participants underwent at least two brain scans an average of 4½ years apart. The researchers applied a widely used metric known as the standard uptake value ratio (SUVR) to the scans to estimate the amount of amyloid in each participant’s brain at each time point.

The researchers also accessed over 1,300 clinical assessments on 180 of the participants. The assessments typically were performed every one to three years. Most participants were cognitively normal at the start of data collection, so the repeated assessments allowed the researchers to pinpoint when each participant’s cognitive skills began to slip.

Schindler spent years trying to figure out how to use the data in amyloid PET scans to estimate the age at which symptoms would appear. The breakthrough came when she realized that amyloid accumulation has a tipping point and that each individual hits that tipping point at a different age. After this tipping point, amyloid accumulation follows a reliable trajectory.

“You may hit the tipping point when you’re 50; it may happen when you’re 80; it may never happen,” Schindler said. “But once you pass the tipping point, you’re going to accumulate high levels of amyloid that are likely to cause dementia. If we know how much amyloid someone has right now, we can calculate how long ago they hit the tipping point and estimate how much longer it will be until they are likely to develop symptoms.”

People in the study who reached the tipping point at younger ages took longer to develop cognitive symptoms than those who reached it later in life. Participants who hit the tipping point at age 50 typically took nearly 20 years to develop symptoms; those who hit it at age 80 took less than 10 years.

“When we look at the brains of relatively young people who have died with Alzheimer’s, they typically look pretty healthy, other than Alzheimer’s,” Schindler said. “But older people more frequently have damage to the brain from other causes, so their cognitive reserves are lower, and it takes less amyloid to cause impairment.”

The power of this new technique is that it requires just one brain scan, plus the person’s age. With that data, the model can estimate the time to symptom onset, plus or minus several years. In this study, the correlation between the expected age of symptom onset and the true age at diagnosis was better than 0.9 on a scale of 0 (no correlation) to 1 (perfect correlation).

After age, the genetic variant APOE4 is the strongest risk factor for Alzheimer’s dementia. People who carry one copy of the variant are two to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s dementia than the general population, and people who carry two copies are 10 times more likely. In this study, people with the high-risk variant hit the tipping point younger, but once that point was passed, they followed the same trajectory as everyone else.

“APOE4 seems to have a seeding effect,” Schindler said. “At very low levels, below the tipping point, you see amyloid rising in people with APOE4 while it’s not changing in people without APOE4. That means APOE4 carriers are going to hit the tipping point sooner. People with two copies of APOE4 hit the tipping point about 10 years earlier than people with no copies. But after that point, we see no difference between the APOE4 carriers and noncarriers.”

With an out-of-pocket cost of around $6,000, amyloid PET brain scans may be financially out of reach for many people. However, this algorithm could help accelerate the pace of drug development by streamlining clinical trials.

“Most participants in clinical trials designed to prevent or slow Alzheimer’s symptoms do not develop symptoms during the trials,” Schindler said. “That’s a lot of time and effort — for the participants as well as the researchers — that doesn’t yield useful data. If we could do trials only on people who are likely to develop symptoms in the next few years, that would make the process of finding therapies much more efficient.”


Source: Washington University School of Medicine

Some Diabetes Meds Might Also Lower Alzheimer’s Risk

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

Older adults who take certain diabetes drugs may see a slower decline in their memory and thinking skills, a new study suggests.

Researchers in South Korea found that among older people who’d been having memory issues, those using diabetes drugs called DDP-4 inhibitors typically showed a slower progression in those symptoms over the next few years. That was compared with both diabetes-free older adults and those taking other diabetes medications.

People on DDP-4 inhibitors also showed smaller amounts of the “plaques” that build up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Experts cautioned that the findings do not prove the drugs can prevent or delay dementia.

To do that, researchers would need to conduct clinical trials that directly test the medications, said Dr. Howard Fillit, chief science officer for the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation in New York City.

But, he said, the study adds to evidence that certain existing medications — including some for diabetes or high blood pressure — could be “repurposed” for protecting the aging brain.

In fact, other diabetes medications, such as metformin and GLP-1 agonists, are already being studied for slowing down declines in memory and thinking skills.

There has been less research, Fillit said, into DDP-4 inhibitors — which include oral medications like sitagliptin (Januvia), linagliptin (Tradjenta), saxagliptin (Onglyza) and alogliptin (Nesina). They share a similarity with GLP-1 agonists, in that they act on the same “pathway” in the body.

Fillit explained that DDP-4 inhibitors work by boosting blood levels of GLP-1, a gut hormone that stimulates insulin release. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.

People with diabetes are resistant to insulin, which results in chronically high blood sugar levels. Some studies have found that people with Alzheimer’s also have problems with insulin resistance — and researchers have speculated that may contribute to the brain degeneration seen in the disease.

But Fillit said that diabetes medications might have effects beyond improving insulin resistance.

Animal research has suggested DDP-4 inhibitors can reduce brain inflammation and protect brain cells from Alzheimer’s-like injury.

For the current study, researchers led by Dr. Phil Hyu Lee of Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul reviewed the cases of 282 patients who had come to their clinic with complaints about their memory and thinking abilities. Brain scans had shown all had evidence of amyloid — the protein that makes up Alzheimer’s-related plaques.

Of those patients, half had diabetes: 70 were taking a DDP-4 inhibitor, and 71 were using other diabetes drugs, most often metformin and sulfonylureas.

On average, the researchers found, patients on DDP-4 inhibitors had less amyloid buildup than either the diabetes-free patients or those on other diabetes medications. And over the next few years, they also showed a slower decline on tests of memory and thinking.

The findings were published online in the journal Neurology.

Maria Carrillo, chief science officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, stressed that the study cannot prove DDP-4 inhibitors slow down the dementia process.

One of the study’s limitations, she noted, is that patients’ amyloid levels were only measured at the start. So it’s not clear whether those on DDP-4 inhibitors had a slower accumulation of brain plaques over time.

It’s well known, Carrillo said, that people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s than those without diabetes — though the reasons are not fully clear, she added.

Insulin resistance, as well as high blood sugar, may partly explain it, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Carrillo noted that this study did not look at patients’ long-term blood sugar control — and whether that had any role in their rates of decline over time.

“There is some rationale for looking at these diabetes drugs in people with Alzheimer’s,” Carrillo said.

But like Fillit, she said only randomized clinical trials — where patients are randomly assigned to take a DDP-4 inhibitor or not — can prove whether there are benefits.

One question for future studies, Fillit said, is whether DDP-4 inhibitors can slow mental decline in people without diabetes, or only those with the disease.

Because Alzheimer’s is so complex, Fillit said it is likely that medication combinations — aimed at different mechanisms behind the disease — will prove most effective at treating or preventing the disease.

Both of the nonprofits encourage people to eat a healthy diet, exercise, avoid smoking and engage in mentally stimulating activities to help keep their bodies and minds in good shape as they age.


Source: HealthDay

Cleaning Up the Air Could Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Air pollution causes you to gasp and wheeze. Smog puts strain on your hearts and inflames your lungs.

Could dirty air also be costing you your brain health?

A trio of new studies finds that air quality appears linked to a risk of thinking declines and dementia, and bad air might even promote toxic brain proteins that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This is extremely exciting, because it indicates the potential that improving air quality levels could have on mortality levels, other areas of health, and also perhaps risk of dementia,” said Claire Sexton, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association.

In the first study, researchers found that reduction of fine particulate pollution and smog over a decade was tied to reductions in dementia risk among women.

The study followed more than 2,200 women between the ages of 74 and 92 without dementia who’d enrolled in a long-term study of brain health. Researchers tracked their thinking, reasoning and memory skills as they aged, and compared the results to the air quality of their various communities.

The women’s risk of dementia decreased by up to 26% for every 10% improvement in air quality in their neighborhoods, the researchers concluded. Women in areas with cleaner air had dementia risk similar to that seen in women two to three years younger.

Cleaner air also seems to slow overall decline in cognitive function and memory, similar to women one to two years younger, results showed.

These benefits occurred regardless of age, education or neighborhood, said lead researcher Xinhui Wang, an assistant professor of research neurology at the University of Southern California.

“Air pollution is a modifiable risk factor,” Wang said. “The impact will be great because everybody is exposed to some level of air pollution. If we reduce air pollution, everybody will benefit.”

A second study from researchers led by Noemie Letellier, a postdoctoral scholar at University of California, San Diego, found that reductions in fine particle pollution between 1990 and 2000 caused dementia and Alzheimer’s risk to fall among a group of more than 7,000 people in France.

Dementia risk fell by 15% and Alzheimer’s risk by 17% for every microgram reduction in air pollution per cubic meter of air, researchers found. Again, the changes benefited everyone, regardless of their income or where they lived in a community.

The third study, led by Christina Park, a doctoral student in the University of Washington’s Department of Epidemiology, provided a potential explanation for why air pollution might affect brain health.

Researchers found that people with longer exposure to particle pollution and smog had higher levels of beta amyloid, a sticky protein that can clump in the brain. Amyloid plaques are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

Air pollution also might increase dementia risk by causing inflammation in the body and by damaging heart and lung health, Wang and Sexton said.

So battling air pollution might not be just a way to stop climate change and protect heart health, but a way to actually reduce dementia among aging folks, experts concluded.

“There’s been improvements in air quality over a number of years and decades, but there’s still so much further to go,” Sexton said. “Globally, more than 90% of people breathe air that fails to meet World Health Organization standards.”

All three studies will be presented Monday at the Alzheimer’s Association annual meeting, held both in Denver and online. Findings presented at medical meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.


Source: HealthDay

Study: Reading, Puzzles May Delay Alzheimer’s by 5 Years

An active mind in old age may delay Alzheimer’s disease by up to five years, a new study suggests.

Activities like reading, writing letters, playing cards or doing puzzles may prolong brain health even for those in their 80s, researchers say.

“The key element is that you’re processing information,” said lead researcher Robert Wilson, a professor in the neurological sciences department at Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago.

“Reading is certainly important, but anything that stimulates the mind and is challenging to you intellectually can be helpful,” he said.

Wilson cautioned that this study can’t prove that being mentally active delays dementia, but it “suggests that reading and various cognitive activities may be helpful.”

Although other studies have shown that an active mind delays dementia, this study put a real-world timeframe on the delay.

“There are already estimates that a five-year delay in the onset of this disease could reduce its impact by 40% in the population,” he said.

For the study, Wilson’s team collected data on nearly 2,000 people with an average age of 80 who did not have dementia at the start of the study.

Over seven years, participants were given several mental acuity, or cognitive, tests.

At the start, participants were asked how often they read books and how often they played games like checkers, board games, cards or puzzles in the past year. Participants were also asked about cognitive activity in childhood, adulthood and middle age.

Over the follow-up period, 457 people with an average age of 89 developed Alzheimer’s dementia. Those who had the highest levels of mental activity developed dementia at 94. Those with the lowest levels developed dementia at 89, the researchers found.

Wilson’s group also studied the brains of 695 people who died during the study. They looked for markers of Alzheimer’s like amyloid and tau deposits and tangles, but no association between mental activity and markers of Alzheimer’s disease or other disorders in the brain was found.

Wilson noted that “keeping mentally active is not a pill to stop the underlying plaques and tangles” linked with Alzheimer’s disease. The buildup of amyloid protein plaques in the brain, as well as “tangles” of another protein, tau, are hallmarks of the illness.

Although there are no effective treatments or cures for Alzheimer’s, Wilson and another expert, Dr. Sam Gandy of New York City, said the study adds to evidence that lifestyle changes are one way to help ward off dementia.

“This fits beautifully with decades of basic science and provides the first detailed ‘prescription’ for cognitive activity that doctors can offer to their patients and to the public at large,” said Gandy. He is associate director of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“We have had three sessions of 30 minutes each per week of brisk walking or weight training for a while. Now we can add this cognitive activity prescription to our repertoire,” Gandy said.

Wilson added, “Changing lifestyles to be more conducive to having a healthy brain can have an enormous impact on your risk for this disease.”

The report was funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging, and published online in the journal Neurology.


Source: HealthDay

Tips for Building a More Alzheimer’s-resistant Brain

Gina Shaw wrote . . . . . . . . .

Lauren Miller Rogen knows that Alzheimer’s disease runs in her family, but she’s not assuming it’s her fate. “I’ve heard a lot of smart people say that your genes may be the map, but they don’t have to be your destination,” she says.

“You don’t have control over your genes or your family history,” says Liana Apostolova, MS, MD, FAAN, endowed professor of Alzheimer’s disease research at the Indiana University School of Medicine. “But many things may help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

Research shows that Alzheimer’s disease begins in the brain at least 15 years before the first symptoms of memory loss appear, which is why it’s important to protect your brain from an early age. Recently, a new review and analysis of hundreds of major trials, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, pinpointed several significant risk factors—and offered a list of habits people can adopt to possibly lower their risk for the disease.

Most of these recommendations revolve around five key areas that Lauren Miller Rogen and Seth Rogen’s charity, HFC, focuses on in its public awareness campaigns: exercise, nutrition, mental fitness, sleep, and emotional well-being. Acting on them doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed not to develop dementia, but you can do your best to build what HFC calls a “more Alzheimer’s-resistant brain.”

Exercise

Lots of studies have found that physical fitness can translate into mental fitness. The hippocampus—the part of the brain primarily responsible for memory and learning—is larger in people who are more physically fit, and exercise has even been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus in older adults, which improves memory function.

“We have clear evidence that physical activity helps maintain cognition, reduces levels of stress—which itself contributes to cognitive decline—and increases levels of proteins in the brain that help maintain its functioning,” says Sudha Seshadri, MD, founding director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Pick something you’ll stick with and aim for 30 minutes at least five days a week.

Nutrition

“We know that a brain-healthy diet and a heart-healthy diet are essentially the same thing,” says Dr. Apostolova. Most experts recommend following the “Mediterranean diet”—plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, olive oil as a primary fat source, and moderate amounts of eggs, fish, poultry, and dairy. The diet is endorsed by the American Heart Association, and in several studies has been associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline.

Together, a healthy diet and exercise protect against high blood pressure and diabetes, both of which are significant risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. “And we know that it’s not just your blood pressure or having diabetes in your sixties or seventies that puts you at risk for dementia, but your accumulated exposure over a lifetime,” says Dr. Seshadri. “Midlife hypertension and diabetes affect your brain, and the period we define as ‘midlife’ seems to go back further and further as we get more sensitive ways of detecting brain injury.”

Don’t waste your money on products advertised as “brain health supplements,” however.

“If you have a diagnosed deficiency in a certain nutrient, then supplementing to a normal range can be beneficial, but if you’re eating a healthy diet and have a normal nutritional intake, there’s no need for that,” says James Burke, MD, PhD, professor of neurology at the Duke University School of Medicine.

Mental Fitness

“I sometimes joke that Head Start is an antidementia program,” says Dr. Seshadri. That’s because research has found that education, from early childhood through adulthood, helps prevent cognitive decline later in life.

“The more education people get, the more protection they have against cognitive decline in general,” says Dr. Apostolova. “There’s also something we call ‘cognitive reserve’: the brain’s ability to compensate for damage with more efficient connections and processing. That’s increased by education.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean that if you never got a college degree, you’re out of luck. “It seems that a wide range of mental and social activities, begun early and continued throughout life, is important,” says Dr. Seshadri.

Rather than focusing on touted “memory training” programs, exercise your brain with intellectual and social activities. “If you’re doing something you enjoy, you’re more likely to continue doing it, whether that’s reading, doing puzzles or games, learning a language, or even dancing, which combines an intellectual and a physical component,” says Dr. Burke. “If you’re musically minded, pick up the guitar or violin. Stretch your brain in ways that are meaningful to you.”

Sleep

You can protect your brain simply by going to bed. “Sleep is a period of recovery during which buildup of harmful amyloid and tau proteins can be removed from the brain, especially during periods of deep sleep,” says Dr. Seshadri.

Being chronically sleep deprived, studies suggest, may increase your long-term risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Even one night of sleep deprivation has been found to raise levels of amyloid and tau in the brain.

Go to bed at the same time every night (even on weekends); avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evening; don’t exercise right before bed; and keep your bedroom cool, comfortable, and free of distractions.

Emotional Well-Being

Depression and stress are contributing factors in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, so caring for yourself emotionally is an important part of maintaining your brain health. Spend more time out in nature; pursue mind-body wellness activities like meditation, tai chi, or yoga; and set aside time to socialize, either in person or virtually. You can even view hanging out with your best friend after work or reconnecting with your college housemates on a group Zoom call as an important wellness activity!


Source: Brain and Life

Scientists Develop Simple Blood Test for Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

An international research team led by HKUST has developed a simple but robust blood test from Chinese patient data for early detection and screening of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) for the first time, with an accuracy level of over 96%.

Now, a team led by Prof. Nancy IP, Vice-President for Research and Development at HKUST, has identified 19 out of the 429 plasma proteins associated with AD to form a biomarker panel representative of an “AD signature” in the blood. Based on this panel, the team has developed a scoring system that distinguishes AD patients from healthy people with more than 96% accuracy. This system can also differentiate among the early, intermediate, and late stages of AD, and can be used to monitor the progression of the disease over time. These exciting findings have led to the development of a high-performance, blood-based test for AD, and may also pave the way to novel therapeutic treatments for the disease.

“With the advancement of ultrasensitive blood-based protein detection technology, we have developed a simple, noninvasive, and accurate diagnostic solution for AD, which will greatly facilitate population-scale screening and staging of the disease,” said Prof. Nancy Ip, Morningside Professor of Life Science and the Director of the State Key Laboratory of Molecular Neuroscience at HKUST.

The work was conducted in collaboration with researchers at University College London and clinicians in local hospitals including the Prince of Wales Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The discovery was made using the proximity extension assay (PEA) – a cutting-edge ultrasensitive and high-throughput protein measurement technology, to examine the levels of over 1,000 proteins in the plasma of AD patients in Hong Kong.

As the most comprehensive study of blood proteins in AD patients to date, the work has recently been published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, and has also been featured and actively discussed on different scholarly exchange platforms on AD research such as Alzforum.

AD, which affects over 50 million people worldwide, involves the dysfunction and loss of brain cells. Its symptoms include progressive memory loss as well as impaired movement, reasoning, and judgment. While patients often only seek medical attention and are diagnosed when they have memory problems, AD affects the brain at least 10-20 years before symptoms appear.


Source : The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology