Conquering Alzheimer's - New Hopes

by Dr. Enozia Vakil on  November 17, 2012 at 11:53 AM Health In Focus
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Even the most profound advances in medicine have been at loss to find out a suitable cure for Alzheimer's, a disease that robs a person of themselves.
Conquering Alzheimer's - New Hopes
Conquering Alzheimer's - New Hopes

Background check: First identified in the year 1906 by a German scientist Alois Alzheimer, this deadly disease is estimated to affect some 18 million people worldwide, 3.5 million of which are Indians. According to the World Health Organization, these numbers are expected to be doubled by the year 2025, making it a serious cause of concern. Alzheimer's often produces symptoms that are ignored. It may be a simple struggle to remember the title of a movie, or the name of an acquaintance, but as the disease progresses, it demonstrates much more dramatic symptoms than occasional memory lapses. Often, it is observed, that people suffering from Alzheimer's lose their sense of smell before the disease actually becomes apparent.

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Detection methods: A simple standard cognitive detection test is carried out as the first step to the detection of Alzheimer's. If a patient fails this test, he/she is further subjected to a series of tests, including a brain scan.

Spinal fluid testing is by far the most accurate method of detection of Alzheimer's disease; however, it is rarely carried out. Combined with a brain scan, this test produces 85-90% accuracy in diagnosis.

Coping with Alzheimer's: Prevention is better than cure'-The saying holds true, even for Alzheimer's. Simple lifestyle changes can make a significant difference and boost brain immunity keeping Alzheimer's and other brain disorders at bay. Inflammation, one of the major causes of the onset of this disease, is thought to be reduced by exercise. Elderly people who exercise regularly are at a much lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other diseases that affect cognitive function.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy ones reduce chronic inflammation to a great extent. Another study demonstrates the efficiency of coffee in preventing Alzheimer's. Coffee and moderate wine consumption is thought to protect the brain. Furthermore, people who consume non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's) on a regular basis are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's and any other form of dementia. It is also found that taking supplements of vitamin B6 and B12 could lessen the shrinkage of brain and slow down the cognitive decline to over 2 years.

The best way, however, to delay and prevent the onset of this disease is to keep the brain busy especially in the later years of life. Elderly people who regularly play mind games like Sudoku and solve crossword puzzles have healthy brains than those who don't. Learning a new language later in life is also known to boost brain power and reduce the risk of cell damage.

The latest research: The 1st of February 2012 marked the accomplishment of a remarkable feat in the study of Alzheimer's disease. The scientists at the University Of Columbia, New York and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway reported astonishing findings that could change the course of how Alzheimer's is treated.

These scientists managed to prove that this disease actually spreads from one brain cell to another, continuing this process along a predictable path, gradually destroying a considerable portion of the person's brain, impairing the ability to think and remember. Numerous researches have already proven the fact that the more worse and severe the symptoms, the greater the area of the brain affected.

This particular research shows that an abnormal protein called 'tau' shows up on the brain cells of people suffering from Alzheimer's just as the symptoms begin. This protein tangles up the connection between two brain cells, thus causing them to die. For now, these studies are currently conducted in mice, and once proved to be equally right in humans, could change the course of how Alzheimer's will be treated.

Source: Medindia

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