Category Archives: Alzheimers/Dementia

Your Brain On Alcohol

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No definitive smoking gun on alcohol use has yet been presented, but the evidence leans heavily against it. Two very large direct studies and one huge meta study have recently appeared, and they largely point to increased risk of dementia as well as of cardiometabolic disease (includes stroke, coronary heart disease, and diabetes).

Media articles:
No healthy level of alcohol consumption, says major study
There’s no risk-free amount of alcohol, population-level study finds
Study:
Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016

Media articles:
Heavy Drinking Tied to Early-Onset Dementia in French Study
Study:
Contribution of alcohol use disorders to the burden of dementia in France 2008–13: a nationwide retrospective cohort study.

Media article:
Both long term abstinence and heavy drinking may increase dementia risk
Editorial:
Relation between alcohol consumption in midlife and dementia in late life (Editorial)
Study:
Alcohol consumption and risk of dementia: 23 year follow-up of Whitehall II cohort study

All of the links have been added to Alzheimers > Risk Factors and Health > Diet

Incidence of Alzheimer’s increasing, including rich and famous

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The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States and the world continues to rise. A recent study predicts that around 15 million Americans will have either Alzheimer’s dementia or mild cognitive impairment by 2060 (up from approximately 6.08 million in 2018). Here are links to a media article about the study and to the study abstract:

Population of Americans with Alzheimer’s will more than double by 2060
Study abstract:
Forecasting the prevalence of preclinical and clinical Alzheimer’s disease in the United States

Sadly, Ted Turner, founder of CNN and Turner Broadcasting, granted an interview to CBS in which he revealed that he is suffering from Dementia with Lewy Bodies, a dementia related to Alzheimer’s:

Ted Turner reveals he has Lewy body dementia
Ted Turner reveals he’s battling Lewy body dementia in exclusive interview

All links have been added to Epidemiology .

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

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.

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

Advance Directive for Dementia

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Advance Care Directives concerning general medical care are recognized throughout all the states (for example, see the American Bar Associations list Links to State-Specific Advance Directive Forms). More recently, advance care directives specifically aimed at dementia have begun to appear. The point of advance directives is to have a plan in place and to have discussed your wishes with family, potential caregivers, and your doctors — while you are still capable.

A fairly simple straight-forward dementia-oriented directive has been developed by a Washington state internist, and is available as a pdf download at Health Directive for Dementia. The directive was documented by an essay in the JAMA at Advance Directives for Dementia – Meeting a Unique Challenge. Both of these links are available at ADVANCE DIRECTIVE FOR DEMENTIA. A media article about this work appeared at One Day Your Mind May Fade. At Least You’ll Have a Plan.

A more extensive dementia-oriented directive, with detailed directions, can be found at Alzheimers Disease and Dementia Advance Directive , with a general introduction at Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Mental Health Advance Directive. This directive apparently has legal weight in Washington state. It is not clear whether Advance Directives for Dementia have yet gained legal weight in other states.

Whatever the legal status of these Advance Directives for Dementia, it is important for anyone at any risk for dementia to engage in discussions of advance care with family, friends, and doctors, and to make their wishes known while they are able.

All the links above have been added to the top of Alzheimer’s > Coping & Caregivers and to the top of Alzheimer’s > General & Resources

Diet Soda And Dementia And Stroke

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Just about a year ago, a study examining the associations of drinking artificially sweetened soda drinks made something of a splash. The study found that people consuming at least a can of so-called diet drinks every day were 2.96 times more likely to suffer an ischaemic stroke and 2.89 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who drank them less than once a week. The study — like many — could not establish a causal relationship either way, only a definite association. But “the best current evidence suggests that when it comes to reducing your risk of dementia, what is good for your heart is also good for your head.”

Here are four media articles about the work:
Stroke and dementia risk linked to artificial sweeteners, study suggests
Diet sodas may be tied to stroke, dementia risk
Is soda bad for your brain? (And is diet soda worse?)
Diet Soda and Dementia: What You Need to Know
Here is a link to the research publication:
Sugar- and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and the Risks of Incident Stroke and Dementia
And here is a link to a collection of expert researcher reactions to the publication:
expert reaction to artificially-sweetened fizzy drinks, stroke and dementia

The links have all been added to Alzheimers > Risk Factors and Health > Diet.