Friday, September 08, 2006

Alzheimer Prevention

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive degenerative illness that results in the destruction of a person’s cognitive skills and abilities, including thinking, reasoning, learning and retention, communication, and sometimes even motor. While much of the research currently being done on Alzheimer’s disease is on finding a cure and treatment for the symptoms, considerable progress has also been made in Alzheimer prevention.

As the president and medical director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Foundation International in Tucson, Arizona, Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., is one of the physicians at the forefront of Alzheimer prevention. He contends that the current research on the disease serves only to confirm the idea that Alzheimer prevention is the only practical way of dealing with it.

“We have to realize that the era of the magic bullet – drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease – is over,” asserts Dr. Khalsa. According to him, there is a need to take an integrative approach as what has been done for heart disease. “What works for the heart, works for the head,” he further adds.

Dr. Khalsa’s Alzheimer prevention principle is based on the concept that while the disease progression may be slowed down with medications and drugs, to prevent the disease from developing in the first place, certain steps ought to be taken. Foremost among these steps is to recognize and reduce the factors that lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s – a Multi-factorial Disease

Many scientists agree with Dr. Khalsa that Alzheimer’s is actually a multi-factorial disease. That is, its development is dependent upon several variables, including but not exclusive to nutrition, chronic stress, and lifestyle choices. However, Dr. Khalsa believes that out of these risk factors, the most probable cause of Alzheimer’s are chronic, unrelenting stress and free radical damage and oxidative stress, all of which occur at a certain point in our lives as we age.

Studies show that there are people who appear to be able to protect themselves against memory loss even though their brains show significant damage from Alzheimer’s disease. It has been observed that these people are usually the ones who are mentally engaged or physically active. Additionally, there are also many Alzheimer’s patients who reach 80 and beyond with their memory intact, thus, suggesting that the disease is not a normal part of aging. All these findings further suggest that those who remain mentally active in their later years have a better chance at Alzheimer prevention that those who are not.

In an exciting development of the Alzheimer’s cure research, the Irish drug company Elan and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories in New Jersey worked jointly in a human test study which they announced in July 2001. This Alzheimer’s cure study is said to find out whether a new Alzheimer’s “vaccine” could halt or even cure the disease. However, after some of the volunteers of the study began to develop brain swelling after getting injected with the Alzheimer’s cure, the study was halted.

Alzheimer Test

It was not until 2005 that a new form of Alzheimer’s cure was discovered by Howard Weiner and his colleagues. The Alzheimer’s cure is actually a nasal spray designed also to target the beta amyloid formation in the brain. Said study is set to be tested on humans in 2006.

The Alzheimer’s test that Professor Solomon developed is called the 7 Minute Screen. It is actually comprised of four Alzheimer’s tests that can be administered in less than 10 minutes, or exactly seven minutes and 43 seconds on the average, by anyone who has had an hour of basic training.

The 7-Minute Alzheimer’s test was patterned after the designs of four older psychological test models but with improvements added to make it more sensitive to detecting dementia. Specifically, the Alzheimer’s test zeroes in on tasks that a person with Alzheimer’s would find difficult to do.

The notion is that if people remain mentally engaged, this would result in the establishment of more synaptic connections between neurons in response to new learning. As observed in children’s brains, new synaptic connection is an integral part of learning and is a process that continues for the person’s entire biological life. Thus, as you grow older, your synaptic connection should grow denser as well.

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