Is It Possible Alzheimer’s Is An Infectious Disease?

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Although a “germ theory” approach to Alzheimer’s has occasionally be advocated for years, it has never developed the traction of a “major” approach to the disease. Recently, evidence has begun accumulating that certain viruses, particularly the HHV-6 and HHV-7 human herpes viruses may be involved in the development of Alzheimer’s, albeit in a complex way (see Herpes & Alzheimer’s and Herpes & Alzheimer’s — More). A new article discussing this together with a new initiatives to explore the “germ theory” approach to Alzheimer’s has just been published:

Two striking statistics cited in that article are the following:

All links have been added to Alzheimer’s > Neurology & Neuroplasticity

Mediterranean Diet Appears to Prolog Life in Elderly

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It’s already well-known that the Mediterranean Diet appears to be quite beneficial for heart health, and to aid in resisting atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes:

Mediterranean diet: A heart-healthy eating plan

What’s to know about the Mediterranean diet?

In addition, the Mediterranean Diet has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of dementia:

Mediterranean Diet: Better than ever for your Brain

Mediterranean/MIND Diet Seriously Fights Alzheimer’s/Dementia

Now, a new study has suggested that adopting the Mediterranean Diet, even in old age, can prolog life. Here are two media articles on the study, together with a link to the study abstract:

Adopting Mediterranean diet in old age can prolong life, study suggests

Mediterranean Diet Could Help Older Adults Prolong Life, Study Says

Mediterranean diet and mortality in the elderly: a prospective cohort study and a meta-analysis

All three links have been added to Aging and Health > Diet

Category: Aging, Diet, Health

Sleep, Aging, and Dementia

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We’ve added links to two broad extensive guides about sleep: for aging in general, and for dementia in particular. Although appearing on a bedding manufacturer’s site, these are well-done, and the level of advertising is restrained.

The first link to a guide is:
Sleep and Aging – Senior Sleep Guide
This link has been added to Aging

The second link to a guide is:
Dementia and Sleep Disorders.
This link has been added to Alzheimer’s > Risk Factors

Nine Factors Contributing to Dementia — You Can Manage Them

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The Lancet publishing group organized a commission of medical experts to address the state of Prevention, Intervention, and Care of Dementia. The report was presented in July of 2017:
The Lancet International Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care.
(The document is only http, not https; just tell your browser to go ahead anyway.) Nine specific contributing factors to the risk of dementia were listed, all of them manageable by individuals. Collectively, these factors accounted for more than a third of the risk of dementia. The report groups these factors by early-/mid-/late-life periods of major effect, and assigns a percentage number indicating the reduction in dementia risk that would be achieved by properly handling that factor. These factors, grouped and with assigned risk reduction values, were:

Factor % responsible for risk
Early-Life:
Failing to complete secondary education – –  8%
Mid-Life:
Hearing loss – –  9%
High blood pressure – –  2%
Obesity – –  1%
Late-Life
Smoking – –  5%
Failing to seek early treatment for Depression – –  4%
Physical inactivity (lack of exercise) – –  3%
Social isolation – –  2%
Type 2 diabetes – –  1%


Total potential risk reduction: 35%

The report also mentioned several additional lifestyle factors or life events for which conclusive data were not available, but which are likely to be significant for risk reduction:

  • Adhering to the Mediterranean diet
  • Limiting alcoholic intake to only moderate amounts
  • Avoidance of head injuries
  • Management of sleep disorders
  • Bilingualism
  • Living away from major roads

The following excellent info graphic about the factors appears in the report:

It is definitely worth noting that the three major interventions recommended by the expert panel of the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) were:

Exercise, Manage Blood Pressure, Engage in Brain Training.

These solidly overlap with the Lancet recommendations. (See 3 Good Things To Do For Your Brain: Exercise, Manage Blood Pressure, Brain Training).

Here are four media articles about the Lancet report:
Nine lifestyle changes can reduce dementia risk, study says
Lifestyle changes could prevent a third of dementia cases, report suggests
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170720094907.htm
Is Dementia Preventable?

All links have been added to Alzheimer’s > Amelioration/Prevention.

Exercise, Brain And Heart

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Not only is exercise good for dealing with depression, but — as many of us would testify — it boosts happiness and contentment, as shown by a recent large scale review of exercise-related studies. The review combined 23 mostly observational studies published since 1980, combined involving over 500,000 people, of all ages and a wide range of socioeconomic and ethnic groups, and studied the relationship between their exercise and the their positive feelings (i.e., happiness).

Here are two media articles on the review:
Get moving to get happier, study finds
Even a Little Exercise Might Make Us Happier
Here is the research review:
A Systematic Review of the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Happiness

And there’s more. It’s likely that exercise can help middle-aged people reduce their risk of heart disease:
Middle-aged can reverse heart risk with exercise, study suggests

And exercise helps deal with chronic stress, even including the stress of advanced Alzheimer’s. Here are several media articles and research reports on the effect.

How Strenuous Exercise Affects Our Immune System
Meet the man living with Alzheimer’s who climbs the same mountain every day
Aerobic exercise for Alzheimer’s disease: A randomized controlled pilot trial

Running exercise mitigates the negative consequences of chronic stress on dorsal hippocampal long-term potentiation in male mice.

All links have been added to Health > Physical Exercise

Category: Physical Exercise

Living longer is in your hands

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Here is an excellent article, from one of the best online medical correspondents, summarizing the best ways to strongly improve the likelihood of living longer, and living well:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Forget science (for now); living longer is in your hands

This link has been added to Aging.

Category: Aging

Herpes & Alzheimer’s — More

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Earlier this month, we described a study demonstrating a link between the presence of certain herpes viruses in the brain, and the presence of Alzheimer’s signs. Interestingly, three more studies of this connection have appeared. All three confirm this connection, but the third in addition suggests that aggressive treatment with herpes anti-viral medication can significantly reduce the chance of encountering dementia. However, the study did not attempt to deal with people who had already encountered dementia.

Here are two media articles:
Herpes linked to Alzheimer’s: Antivirals may help
Alzheimer’s risk 10 times lower with herpes medication

Here is an interesting scientific commentary by two researchers active in the area (referenced in both media articles linked above):
Herpes Viruses and Senile Dementia: First Population Evidence for a Causal Link

Here are links to the first two research studies
Increased risk of dementia following herpes zoster ophthalmicus
Epidemiology and long-term disease burden of herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia in Taiwan: a population-based, propensity score-matched cohort study

Here is the abstract of the third research article which provides information that “The usage of anti-herpetic medications in the treatment of HSV infections was associated with a decreased risk of dementia”:
Anti-herpetic Medications and Reduced Risk of Dementia in Patients with Herpes Simplex Virus Infections-a Nationwide, Population-Based Cohort Study in Taiwan.

All links have been added to Alzheimer’s > Risk Factors and Alzheimer’s > Neurology & Neuroplasticity

High Blood Pressure In Older People Raises Alzheimer’s Risk

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High blood pressure is known to lead to heart attack/failure, stroke, and kidney disease or failure, among other bad consequences. Now, a recently reported study shows that high blood pressure appears to be linked to higher risk of (silent)infarcts (brain lesions/dead brain tissue) and a higher number of Alzheimer’s tangles (but not plaques — yet), and overall, a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. The study group consisted of nearly 1,300 individuals — 2/3 of whom had high blood pressure — followed for an average of 8 years before their deaths, after which their brains were autopsied to determine the effects of the high blood pressure. Yet another reason to attempt to manage hypertension.

Links to media articles about the work:
Blood pressure linked to lesions, signs of Alzheimer’s in autopsied brains
High blood pressure may increase dementia risk
High blood pressure threatens the aging brain, study finds
Late-Life BP Tied to Brain Infarcts, Tangles
Here is a link to the research article:
Late-life blood pressure association with cerebrovascular and Alzheimer disease pathology

All links have been added to Alzheimer’s > Risk Factors

Herpes & Alzheimer’s

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For many years, theories have been proposed concerning the possible involvement of viruses with Alzheimer’s disease, but they have been seen as controversial. New research, based on examination of brain tissue from 1,000 deceased Alzheimer’s sufferers, has strengthened the case for some sort of link. The examination of those brains showed a much higher incidence of two strains of herpes virus than in the brains of deceased healthy controls. These two strains of herpes are extremely common, and typically begin life-long residence in the body and brain during childhood.

However, all scientists involved stress that it is unknown at present whether the presence of these viruses acts as triggers for Alzheimer’s, or whether the presence is a side-effect of Alzheimer’s.

Media articles on the work:
Researchers Find Herpes Viruses In Brains Marked By Alzheimer’s Disease
A Common Virus May Play Role in Alzheimer’s Disease, Study Finds
Childhood viruses linked to Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s link to herpes virus in brain, say scientists
The research article:
Multiscale Analysis of Independent Alzheimer’s Cohorts Finds Disruption of Molecular, Genetic, and Clinical Networks by Human Herpesvirus

All links have been added to Alzheimer’s > Neurology & Neuroplasticity

Diabetes, Obesity, & The Brain

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There is very substantial evidence that Type 2 Diabetes significantly raises the odds that one will develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Here are some presentations:

Connections Between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease
Diabetes and Alzheimer’s linked
Alzheimer’s Disease & Diabetes
How Diabetes Affects Your Brain

There is also strong evidence that being overweight or obese raises the odds that one will develop Type 2 diabetes. Here are some articles:

How Obesity Increases The Risk For Diabetes
Adult obesity and type 2 diabetes
Diabetes and Obesity

Just being overweight, without diabetes, can still have effects on the brain:
Brains of overweight people look ten years older than those of lean peers

And being overweight together with having diabetes further affects your brain:
Diabetes, weight can combine to alter brain, study says

All the links above have been added to Alzheimer’s > Risk Factors.

Category: Risk Factors