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A new study shows that Americans fear Alzheimer's more than any other disease. In this round table video segment from HuffPost Live, host Janey Varney speaks with Steven Arnold, MD, Director of the Penn Memory Center; Deborah Swiss, a caregiver; and Heather Snyder, Senior Associate Director of Medical and Scientific Relations for the Alzheimer's Association. The segment includes a discussion on Alzheimer's disease that helps shed light on the condition in honor of National Alzheimer's Awareness Month.
Hospitals and imaging centers across the country are starting to adopt a new PET scan technology that aids in diagnosing dementias including Alzheimer’s disease. The scan provides clinicians and researchers with the ability to see beta amyloid plaques in the brain, a major marker in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease that until now could only be seen in an autopsy. This new technology makes it possible for clinicians and researchers to see these plaques in real time. But with a FDA label that limits its use to ruling out Alzheimer’s disease, the Alzheimer’s field is still figuring out its diagnostic value to older adults with cognitive complaints. Now, the medical marketplace will start to shape this value.
More than 300 centers are equipped to perform the scans, but as of now many insurers including Medicare will not cover the several thousand dollar cost of the scans. Another issue surrounding the scans is the emotional effect of revealing the results of these scans to patients and their family members.
It is possible to both have and not have Alzheimer’s disease. Contradictory as this statement is, a study reported from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) supports it.
In a paper published in the October issue of the Annals of Neurology investigators reported the results of biomarker studies of 53 patients with dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease. They found a notable proportion of these patients lacked one of the signature pathologies: brain amyloid. This result has notable scientific and policy implications.
Since 2004, ADNI, a longitudinal, NIA-industry funded study, has meticulously followed a cohort of persons with normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Key measures are biomarkers, a term that describes a measure that captures a complex pathologic process, such as how low density liproprotein (the LDL or “bad” cholesterol) captures the myriad of events leading to heart disease, and if abnormal, prompts a clinician to prescribe treatment.
On Saturday, November 17 the Alzheimer's Association's Walk to End Alzheimer's took place at Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia. The walk raised awareness and funds for care, support and research of Alzheimer's disease. The Penn Memory Center and Penn's Institute on Aging were present at this year's walk to spread the word on the aging and Alzheimer's-related services, programs and research available at Penn.
Scientists studying Alzheimer’s disease are increasingly finding clues that the brain begins to deteriorate years before a person shows symptoms of dementia.
Now, research on a large extended family of 5,000 people in Colombia with a genetically driven form of Alzheimer’s has found evidence that the precursors of the disease begin even earlier than previously thought, and that this early brain deterioration occurs in more ways than has been documented before.
The studies, published this month in the journal Lancet Neurology, found that the brains of people destined to develop Alzheimer’s clearly show changes at least 20 years before they have any cognitive impairment. In the Colombian family, researchers saw these changes in people ages 18 to 26; on average, members of this family develop symptoms of mild cognitive impairment at 45 and of dementia at 53.
Among residents of long-term care facilities who want to vote – and studies estimate that on average about one-thirds and in some facilities as many as three-quarters do vote – nearly all require an absentee ballot. However, for residents of many nursing homes, state requirements for what is a valid absentee ballot mean that their vote may not count.
Nursing home residents are typically disabled to the degree that they need assistance performing many basic activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing and moving about a room. The journey from their room to an offsite voting booth is simply an undue burden. Voting by absentee ballot is among the most common methods to enfranchise the disabled.
But absentee balloting is also one of the most common methods of voter fraud, such as stealing multiple residents’ ballots or throwing away ballots. No studies have shown, but rumors persist and cases accumulate, of long-term care facilities being the prime venue to commit such fraud.
Read the full post at NewsObserver.com
On October 27, 2012 Steven Arnold, MD, Director of the Penn Memory Center, presented a lecture titled "New Diagnostic Studies for Mild Cognitive Impairment and Early Alzheimer's Disease" at the First Alzheimer Caribbean Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The conference provided a forum for education and discussion not only for physicians and researchers in the field but also for health care professionals and caregivers. Topics including early diagnosis, cognition and judgment, neuropsychological testing, and non-pharmacological approaches related to Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer's diaseas were discussed, and a question and answer session followed. The Puerto Rico Alzheimer's Association serves the community of Puerto Rico with services and educational programs for patients with Alzheimer's diasease and other types of dementia.
On Monday, November 5 the Penn Memory Center welcomed three visitors who work with the geriatric population at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore at the weekly consensus conference. Pictured from left to right: Ms. Lim Li Ying, Senior Medical Social Worker; Ms. Jesbindar Kaur, RN and Senior Nurse Manager; and Mr. Joseph Cheong Kah Heng, RN.
On October 18, 2012 the radiopharmaceutical substance florbetapir, a component that helps indicate the presence of biomarkers in the brain helpful in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, was approved for use in the radioactive dye Amyvid in Europe by the European Medicines Agency.
Florbetapir is the active substance in Amyvid. Florbetapir functions by binding to beta amyloid plaques in the brain, which have been found to be present in neurodegenerative dementias including Alzheimer’s disease. Amyvid is a solution which, when injected, has the ability to show the presence of beta amyloid plaques in the brain using Positron Emmission Tomography, or PET scans.
Amyvid can be used diagnostically to show plaque density in the brains of adult patients with cognitive impairment who are being evaluated for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive impairment. It can also assist in showing a negative scan, which indicates no plaques and is not consistent with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
My mother believed in a simple philosophy: that if you could do something, you should do something. If she heard of someone in trouble or a cause close to her heart, she would look at me and say “We should do something about this!” Or, and sometimes more often, “YOU should do something about this!”
My mother doesn’t say that anymore. She died this year from Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease, an aggressive form of the disease that usually strikes in your 40’s and 50’s. When I think of what my mother went through, what millions of Alzheimer’s patients are still going through, I can once again see and hear her clearly, “Do something about this!”
But what can we do about Alzheimer’s disease?
Because my mother was so young, my family saw the full spectrum of Alzheimer’s, from beginning, to tragic end. I’ve said repeatedly, no one wants a front row seat to this illness. Though it was a dark and difficult journey, I was awed and inspired by some amazing people -- people who faced Alzheimer’s head on and decided to “do something” about it.
Read the full story at the Maria Shriver blog