Archive for August, 2011

A brand new global mathematical model of Alzheimer’s disease risk shows that decreasing the pervasiveness of popular chronic diseases which are lifestyle-based risk factors by as much as 25% could possibly halt 3 million Alzheimer’s disease worldwide as based on the new research shown at the AAIC 2011 (Alzheimer’s Association International Conference) in Paris.

Previous research has seen a slew of potential changeable risk factors for the disease such as physical activity levels, diet and mental stimulation. However, it is unclear if changing such a lifestyle-based risk factors could result in lesser Alzheimer’s disease risk.

Scientists utilized mathematical modeling in order to compute the percentage of the disease that might be attributed to mid-life hypertension, diabetes, smoking, mid-life obesity, low educational attainment, depression as well as physical inactivity. According to researchers, such estimates provide a critical assumption that is yet to be proven (that there is a direct relationship between the examined risk factors as well as Alzheimer’s disease and that changing the risk factors could decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s).

In a study presented at 2011 AAIC, researchers are looking at the characteristics of old adults who kept their cognitive normal function in order to build a “cognitive resilient aging” index. Their objective is to know a group of factors which predict one’s cognitive stability later in life to be used in research trials and clinical practice.

William Thies, PhD, is the Chief Medical and Scientific Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association. According to him, Alzheimer’s disease and lifestyle is a worldwide emergency. We need to increase the discovery of ways to prevent and detect it as soon as possible. He adds that estimated costs of worldwide dementia is US$604 billion. In the US alone, the cost is US$183 billion.

Deaths related to Alzheimer’s disease are increasing. Meanwhile, those from other types of disease are decreasing. Take note that Alzheimer’s is in the top 10 causes of death in the US which could not be cured, prevented or be slowed down.

In the 2010 World Alzheimer Report produced by Alzheimer’s Disease International, dementia is significantly affecting the world’s social care and health system. Plus, dementia costs are about to soar. According to Thies, the Alzheimer’s Association – in behalf of those who are suffering with such a devastating disease as well as their families including the tons of researchers present in the conference – is calling for an unprecedented worldwide collaboration to further understand, treat and diagnose the disease with the objective of eliminating this global epidemic.

Meanwhile, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at San Francisco’s University of California, San Francisco and Mental Health Research PI at the Veterans Affair Medical Center at San Francisco, Deborah Barnes, PhD, MPH, as well as colleagues, utilized mathematical models to compute PARs or “population attributable risks” for possibly modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease to show the possible impact of risk factor decrease on the prevalence of Alzheimer’s in the US and the world.

PARs are utilized to estimate the number of cases of a specific disease which are possibly attributable to or necessitated by numerous risk factors. PARs usually consider the strength of the connection between the risk factors of the disease as well as the commonality of the risk factors.

They discovered that almost half of Alzheimer’s disease risks are attributed to changeable risk factors. Altogether, seven risk factors (to be discussed in the next post) are seen to contribute to as many as 17 million cases of Alzheimer’s disease and lifestyle worldwide and almost 3 million cases in America.

 

ICAD 2011

Last month the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) — there has been a name change from the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease (ICAD) — had their annual meeting in Paris, France with more than 5,000 scientists in attendance. Each year we look forward to hearing about the latest advances in detection and cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The good news is that there’s progress toward earlier detection, but as one of the leading causes of death, the bad news is that there is still no cure.

In my next two posts, I will present a study that caught my interest because it has to do with lifestyle changes that we can make to potentially lower our risk for Alzheimer’s disease. In the United States, the researchers found that there are seven potentially modifiable risk factors:

  1. Physical inactivity
  2. Depression
  3. Smoking
  4. Mid-life hypertension
  5. Mid-life obesity
  6. Low education
  7. Diabetes

To view a summary of the Alzheimer’s disease research presented, click here.

Next year the conference will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 14 -19, 2012.

 

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Caregivers of Alzheimer’s disease patients have one of the toughest jobs in the world and yet sometimes one of the most rewarding. Stephanie Jewett, RN, MBA, in an article in ezinearticles.com, offers the following tips for caregivers in a home setting.

  • Find something they love to do and keep that favorite thing going everyday, i.e. take a walk in the park, watch their favorite television show or read articles in a magazine. Go to the Internet and learn more about their favorite subject.
  • Keep life simple; follow a schedule everyday. Eat at particular times, keep hair appointments to one specific day a week, and enjoy a meal out once a week, on the same day.
  • Get lots of rest – take a nap if one feels tired, but don’t sleep the day away. Get up at the same time each day, bathe and then have a nutritious breakfast each and every day!
  • Go through scrapbooks and old pictures, reminding them of family members — their names, ages, etc.
  • Get a dog or a cat so that the patient has some responsibility and company in the home. Pet therapy is one of the best methods known to keep a person happy and healthy.

As a caregiver, your top priority is to take care of yourself so that you will have the strength and stamina to take care of your loved one. So the tips for your Alzheimer’s disease patient apply to you as well. Take good care!

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