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Tags: Alzheimers | diagnosis | genes | tau proteins

Advances in Alzheimer's Diagnosis and Treatment

By Wednesday, 08 January 2020 04:33 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Doctors today are better equipped to identify Alzheimer’s disease earlier in its course. In addition, we’ve made considerable advances in understanding how lifestyle behaviors such as exercise, diet, and stress can be modified to lower dementia risk.

We have also gained greater insight to the genetic basis of the disease — mutations that cause Alzheimer’s in certain (rare) families have been revealed, and genes that increase risk in the general population have been discovered.

There are now several medicines that can stabilize patients’ symptoms so they maintain a higher level of functioning, allowing them to stay with their families longer, sometimes even years beyond the period when they would have been institutionalized in the past.

But scientists still face many challenges. Perhaps the greatest is to develop more effective treatments that can benefit the estimated 5.4 million Americans and 44 million worldwide who suffer from Alzheimer’s and need assistance to get by each day.

And the situation is only getting more critical. Age is the greatest single risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s, and as our population continues to live longer, cases are expected to triple by 2050.

Alzheimer’s patients also pose a tremendous burden to family members who must cope with the emotional pain of caregiving and often lose time from work or their own immediate families while watching after loved ones.

Those caregivers undergo tremendous stress that can put them at increased risk for depression. Some studies indicate that the risk of major depression for primary caregivers of dementia patients is as high as 50 percent.

Researchers are now taking a more strategic approach by diversifying and addressing a variety of mechanisms and brain abnormalities that may be contributing to Alzheimer’s.

Drug targets include brain inflammation, cholesterol buildup, and tau proteins that accumulate in patients’ brains and correlate with the level of cognitive decline.

Because diabetes increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, some studies have also focused on the use of insulin nasal sprays as a potential Alzheimer’s treatment.

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Age is the greatest single risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s, and as our population continues to live longer, cases are expected to triple by 2050.
Alzheimers, diagnosis, genes, tau proteins
Wednesday, 08 January 2020 04:33 PM
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