Alzheimer's & Other Dementias

Latest news

  • A large long-running study adds to growing evidence that higher levels of physical activity reduce brain atrophy and Alzheimer's risk, and shows that many types of aerobic activity are beneficial.

Data from 876 patients (average age 78) in the 30-year Cardiovascular Health Study show that virtually any type of aerobic physical activity can improve brain volume and reduce Alzheimer's risk.

  • Data from the very long-running Framingham Heart Study adds to evidence that, for those with at least a high school education, the rate of dementia is declining. Improved cardiovascular health and treatment appears to be an important factor in this decline.

As we all know, people are living longer and obesity is at appalling levels. For both these (completely separate!) reasons, we expect to see growing rates of dementia. A new analysis using data from the long-running Framingham Heart Study offers some hope to individuals, however.

  • A new study finds that seafood consumption reduces Alzheimer's pathology, but only in those with the Alzheimer's gene APOEe4. While fish oil didn't appear to affect brain health, the omega-3 acid found in flaxseed did.

I've spoken before about how the presence or absence of the “Alzheimer's gene” may affect which lifestyle changes are beneficial for you.

  • A very large U.S. study looking at ethnic differences in dementia risk, has found that African-Americans show the highest rates of dementia, followed by blacks and American Indian/Alaska Natives, then Latinos and whites, with Asian-Americans having the lowest rates.

A study involving 14 years of health records from more than 274,000 Northern Californians has assessed the relative dementia risk of six different ethnicities.

The average annual rate of dementia was:

  • An easy new rating scale will help those with Lewy Body dementia be diagnosed much more quickly.

After Alzheimer's disease, the next most common type of dementia is Lewy Body disease. Far less widely known, this form of dementia is often diagnosed quite late.

  • Mouse study shows tau tangles may be behind increased Alzheimer's risk for those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

We know that traumatic brain injury increases the risk of later developing neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, but we haven't known why. New mouse studies suggest a reason.

  • A stress hormone has been found to be associated with more amyloid-beta protein, in mice and human neurons.
  • The finding helps explain why stress is a risk factor for Alzheimer's.
  • A previous 38-year study supports this with the finding that women who scored highly in "neuroticism" in middle age, had a greater chance of later developing Alzheimer's.
  • This link was largely accounted for by chronic stress experienced by these women over the four decades.

A study involving both mice and human cells adds to evidence that stress is a risk factor for Alzheimer's.

  • A large study found that people who developed dementia started to lose awareness of memory problems some 2½ years before dementia onset.
  • This loss of awareness was associated with three examples of neuropathology, including tau tangles and brain infarcts.

A ten-year study involving 2,092 older adults (average age 76) has found that people tended to lose awareness of memory problems two to three years before the onset of dementia.

  • 3-5 minute questionnaire can screen for presence and severity of dementia
  • its reliability is comparable to existing screening tools
  • its ease of use is better

A new questionnaire has been developed that very quickly determines whether or not a person has dementia and whether it's very mild, mild, moderate or severe. The 10-item questionnaire takes only 3-5 minutes and can be completed by a caregiver, friend or family member.

A long-running study comparing African-Americans and Nigerians has found the incidence of dementia has fallen significantly over two decades among the African-Americans, but remained the same for the Nigerians (for whom it was lower anyway).

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