New findings from research into multiple concussions in hockey players

The relationship between head injuries suffered during contact sport and Alzheimer’s disease is now being called into question thanks to research by the Sahlgrenska Academy, which has revealed that hockey players with multiple concussions probably have other injuries in their brains.

“There seem to be two separate conditions and pathologies involved here,” says Pashtun Shahim, a doctor and researcher of neurology and physiology.

He himself has met the 28 sportspeople who were the subjects of the research, the majority of whom were elite ice hockey players from Sweden (both male and female).

All of them had experienced long-term problems after suffering concussion on multiple occasions, with complaints including sensitivity to noise and light, irritability, depression, difficulty concentrating and memory problems.

Full story of findings into hockey player concussions at Science Daily

FDA approves new diabetes medication

We now know that there’s much more to pain than simply what is happening in the painful body part, and attention has turned to the role of the brain. But not even this mysterious organ can tell us everything we need to know about pain, at least not yet.

You may wonder why the brain is part of the discussion about pain at all. After all, we’re not talking about a brain disease such as Alzheimer’s or stroke.

But we think that the brain is actually the best place to look when trying to understand pain; after all, pain is a purely subjective experience.

The problem is that pain cannot be “seen”. While a flinch, a limp, or a grimace may provide us with clues, ultimately we only know that someone is in pain if they tell us they are.

And it doesn’t necessarily make sense to only consider the part of the body that’s sore – sometimes people report pain in a body part that no longer exists, known as phantom limb pain.

Full story of FDA approving new diabetes drug at the Los Angeles Times

Understanding pain: can the brain provide all the answers?

We now know that there’s much more to pain than simply what is happening in the painful body part, and attention has turned to the role of the brain. But not even this mysterious organ can tell us everything we need to know about pain, at least not yet.

You may wonder why the brain is part of the discussion about pain at all. After all, we’re not talking about a brain disease such as Alzheimer’s or stroke.

But we think that the brain is actually the best place to look when trying to understand pain; after all, pain is a purely subjective experience.

The problem is that pain cannot be “seen”. While a flinch, a limp, or a grimace may provide us with clues, ultimately we only know that someone is in pain if they tell us they are.

And it doesn’t necessarily make sense to only consider the part of the body that’s sore – sometimes people report pain in a body part that no longer exists, known as phantom limb pain.

Full story of brain helping with pain at Science Alert

Zen and the Art of Alzheimer’s

I sat across the room from my father on Thanksgiving night. He looked at me pointedly. “What’s your name?” he asked.

“I’m Mary,” I answered.

“Mary… ” he prompted.

“Mary McLaughlin,” I said, wondering if he would recognize that my last name was the same as his.

“Mary McLaughlin,” he repeated slowly. He listened to the syllables as they floated in the air. Then he shook his head. No, it didn’t ring a bell.

My father, a few months shy of his 91st birthday, has advanced Alzheimer’s disease. Though he still has good days, he has forgotten most of the things that just a few years ago he would have listed as evidence of a life well-lived — his three college degrees; his two successful careers; his five grown children; his 57-year-and-counting marriage to my mother. They — we — are all shadows now. Glimpses. Points of information that he finds fascinating and puzzling, but that evaporate almost as soon as they are spoken to him.

It’s all lost.

I’ve played that Thanksgiving night conversation through in my head a hundred times since it happened and it stings every time I do. And then, with each replay, I continue through to the second part of our conversation until I get to the part that salves the sting.

Full story of the Zen of Alzheimer’s at The Huffington Post

New cognitive model ‘could detect early-stage dementia’

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than 5 million people in the US living with Alzheimer’s disease. But researchers say they have developed a new model that could improve early detection of dementia, allowing better treatment options and potentially slowing the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, say the model, based on the reading of cognitive test scores, could determine whether memory loss in older adults is benign or whether it could develop into Alzheimer’s disease.

Although current methods of diagnosing dementia involve cognitive tests, the researchers note that the challenge for doctors is that the majority of normal, healthy people will have low scores in some areas.

They add that this makes it difficult to determine whether the patient has a mild form of cognitive impairment, is in the early stages of dementia, or is free of any cognitive problems.

Full story of detecting early stages of dementia at Medical News Today

Letter: All should be aware of Alzheimer’s toll

We have to wake up.

James Carville, political commentator and media personality, spoke at the Alzheimer’s Services 30th Anniversary Gala earlier this year and remarked Alzheimer’s disease is “contagious.” Carville, along with his other siblings, cared for their mother, “Nippy,” with the disease, and was simply expressing that the disease was contagious in the sense that the whole family suffers on its own terms when one family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

So true. Caregivers and a network of family and friends are all affect ed by this debilitating brain disorder which affects 5.2 million Americans of all ages annually.

The disease is reaching epidemic proportions with mounting costs. In 2013, the direct costs of caring for those with Alzheimer’s to American society will total an estimated $203 billion, including $142 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid.

Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area serves a 10-parish area, and recent numbers revealed more than 21,000 individuals in these areas alone have developed Alzheimer’s, with a calculated 100,000-plus individuals statewide.

Full story of waking up to Alzheimer’s at The Advocate

DOG HEROES HELP PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA LIVE BETTER LIVES

After being diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (EOAD) at age 57, Rick Phelps was given an Exelon patch and a directive to make a follow-up appointment with his neurologist in six months.

That’s it-that’s all modern medicine could offer a man whose world had been unceremoniously upended by a terminal diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s disease has no cure, no effective treatment, and there are few resources to help families deal with the crushing effects of increasing cognitive impairment.

Fortunately for Rick, unconventional intervention would come a few months after his devastating diagnosis; in the form of a furry, four-legged savior named Sam. The spry German Shepard is a member of an elite squad of service dogs specially-trained to assist people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Unlike therapy dogs that assist blind or physically disabled individuals, these so-called “psychiatric service dogs” are patterned after police K9s-conditioned to analyze a situation and make decisions on how best to protect their human handlers.

Full story of dogs helping dementia at Paw Nation

11 new gene variants linked to Alzheimer’s disease

In the largest genetic analysis of Alzheimer’s ever completed, scientists have discovered 11 new genes that may be tied to the late-onset form of the dementia disease.

Scientists scanned the brains of 74,076 older volunteers with Alzheimer’s and others who did not have the disease in 15 countries to come up with their findings. The study was published in Nature Genetics on Oct. 27.

Prior to this study, only 11 gene variants had been linked to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, including one called Apolipoprotein E-e4 (APOE-e4) which appeared to have the strongest impact on risk.

Now, with the latest research, scientists have doubled the known gene variants linked to the disease.

These genes may play a role in how cells function, including how microglial cells (cells that form the support structure of the central nervous system) react to areas of inflammation. Other gene variants were shown to affect brain cell function and synaptic function in the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.

In particular, researchers say the link to one newly-discovered gene variant known as HLA-DRB5/DRB1 is a landmark finding. It plays a large role in the major histocompatibility complex region of the brain, which is an area of cell surface molecules that control how white blood cells — which are involved in the immune system — interact. This area of the brain has also been connected with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. It could mean that the immune system has something to do with Alzheimer’s.

Full story of Alzheimer’s and genes variants at CBS News

Blood Pressure Drugs Tied to Decreased Dementia Risk

A new study suggests that taking certain blood pressure medications may reduce the risk of dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease.

When researchers at Johns Hopkins analyzed data on more than 3,000 elderly Americans, they found that people over the age of 75 with normal cognition who used diuretics, angiotensin-1 receptor blockers (ARBs) and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors showed a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s-related dementia by at least 50 percent.

Additionally, diuretics were associated with a 50 percent reduced risk in those with mild cognitive impairment.

Beta blockers and calcium channel blockers did not show a link to reduced risk, the scientists reported in the study, published in the journal Neurology.

“Identifying new pharmacological treatments to prevent or delay the onset of AD dementia is critical, given the dearth of effective interventions to date,” said Sevil Yasar, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine in the Department of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Our study was able to replicate previous findings, however, we were also able to show that the beneficial effect of these blood pressure medications are maybe in addition to blood pressure control, and could help clinicians in selecting an antihypertensive medication based not only on blood pressure control, but also on additional benefits.”

Full story of blood pressure drugs and dementia at PsychCentral

Helping change the world’s view of Alzheimer’s

AgingCare.com, the online community of more than 6 million people caring for elderly loved ones, has released Fade to Blank: Life Inside Alzheimer’s—a compelling and unprecedented account that explores the human side of Alzheimer’s, as told by three families whose lives have been forever altered by this disease.

“We spent a great deal of time analyzing thousands of questions, answers and comments about Alzheimer’s on AgingCare.com,” said Joe Buckheit, Founder and President. “It became clear that even with all the information available, people wanted to know more about how this disease impacts real life.”

To answer their questions and provide further insights, Fade to Blank takes you inside the lives of three courageous families living with Alzheimer’s—from their views, in their words. It demonstrates that there is so much more to this devastating disease than its finality: more love, more hope, more humanity.

“No one has ever presented the ‘human’ side of Alzheimer’s in this way before,” said Anne-Marie Botek, author of Fade to Blank and editor-in-chief of AgingCare.com. “The unfiltered sentiments expressed by these incredible men and women have the power to truly transform the way Alzheimer’s is perceived.”

Full story of the world’s view on Alzheimer’s at The Sacramento Bee