Entries in alzheimer's disease (44)


Report: Alzheimer’s by the Numbers

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Every 69 seconds one person develops Alzheimer’s disease, according to the latest Alzheimer’s Association report released Tuesday.

The 2011 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures highlights this statistic and more in a comprehensive report that depicts how the disease has impacted Americans and their caretakers.

The report notes that Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death across all ages in the U.S. and the fifth among those 65 and old.  The disease is also the only one among the top 10 leading causes of death in the country that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.

Between 2000 and 2008 alone, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 66 percent.

Moreover, approximately 5.4 million Americans are living with the disease and the number is expected to climb to 16 million by 2050.

The disease has also taken a financial toll on the 15 million Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers who have provided unpaid care valued at $202.6 billion.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Possible Alzheimer's Warning Signs

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A new study on Alzheimer's disease suggests there could be warning signs in one's cognitive functions up to six years before it becomes evident in subjects.

Lead researcher of the study, Robert S. Wilson, says a rapid deterioration of memory and other mental function is only present in people who develop Alzheimer's disease later on.

"We found that dementia in Alzheimer's disease is preceded by an average of five to six years of rapid cognitive decline," said Wilson, a senior neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago. "We also found that the precursor of Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, is preceded by about six years of increased cognitive decline," he said. "By contrast, little cognitive decline was evident in people who did not develop these conditions."

His team evaluated 2,071 older adults without dementia in two separate studies, including 1,511 who had no signs of cognitive impairment. The subjects were tested on cognitive functions including memory and visuo-spatial ability.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


After Cancer, Americans Most Fear Alzheimer's Disease

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Americans live in fear when it comes to possibly contracting a fatal disease.

According to a poll conducted last year by Harris Interactive for the MetLife Foundation, four out of ten people are most concerned about getting cancer. That’s up slightly from 2006, when the question was posed about scary illnesses.

Next on the worry meter is Alzheimer’s disease, with three out of ten Americans fearing that debilitating condition the most. In 2006, just 20 percent of respondents listed Alzheimer’s as number one on their list of potentially fatal diseases.

Despite real fears about Alzheimer’s, nearly two-thirds of Americans admit knowing very little or virtually nothing about the brain-wasting disease that gradually robs people of their memory and cognitive skills.

As far as other serious conditions are concerned, heart disease, stroke and diabetes were feared the most by 8 percent, 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Hearing Loss May Have Same Cause as Dementia

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- Those suffering from hearing loss may start to lose their memory as well, according to a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore.

After conducting a study of 640 people over a nearly 20-year span, Dr. Franklin Lin and his colleagues discovered those experiencing greater degrees of hearing loss are more apt to suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's disease than those with milder or no loss of hearing.

While more studies are needed to prove his theory, Lin says that hearing loss and dementia may wind up having the same cause.

He claims that, if true, the discovery would have profound implications for public health because if hearing loss is detected early enough, it could also mean people could be treated earlier for dementia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Millions of Baby Boomers Will Face Alzheimer's

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As more than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day this year, one in eight of them are expected to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new report by the Alzheimer's Association.

The report, titled "Generation Alzheimer’s," predicts an estimated 10 million baby boomers will either die with or from Alzheimer’s.  The disease, which is among the top 10 causes of death in America, is the only one that isn't preventable or curable.

The National Institutes of Health spends only $480 million a year on research for Alzheimer’s, compared to the more than $6 billion, $4 billion and $3 billion it spends on research for cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS, respectively.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Alzheimer's Is 'Defining Disease of Baby Boomers'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The Alzheimer's Association has released it's Generation Alzheimer's Report, calling the disease the "defining disease of baby boomers."

This year, the first of the baby boomer generation will turn 65, the age when the risk of developing Alzheimer's significantly increases.

There is an impending wave of new cases of the disease and new families that will have to cope with the devastating toll this disease takes on its victims.

It's expected 10 million baby boomers will develop alzheimer's and of those who reach age 85, nearly one in two will get it. 

The report says since there is no way yet to prevent it, cure it, or even slow the progression, every one of those 10 million baby boomers will either die with or from

In addition to the human toll, over the next 40 years alzheimers will likely cost the nation an estimated $20 trillion dollars. With such a broad ranging impact on patients, families, medicare and medicaid, Alzheimers could also take a toll on the national economy.

Unless a cure is found, alzheimer's could become the defining disease of the baby boom generation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Could Someone with Alzheimer's Disease Run the Country ?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Six years after finishing his second term as the president of the United States, Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's -- a devastating neurological disease that impairs memory, judgment and reasoning. But the former president's son, Ron Reagan, says he saw the early signs of Alzheimer's while his father was still in office.

"It wasn't anything that obvious. It wasn't like, 'Oh my God, he doesn't remember he's president,' Ron Reagan said in an exclusive interview with ABC News. "It was just, I had an inkling that there might be something going on."

Alzheimer's disease, which is estimated to affect up to 5.1 million people in the U.S. according to the National Institute on Aging, is an irreversible and progressive brain disease that affects a person's ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. But subtler changes in memory and mood can signal the disease's early stages.

"Most commonly people complain of short term memory issues," said Dr. Gary Small, director of the University of California, Los Angeles Center on Aging. Forgetting plans and having trouble remembering names or words -- the so-called 'tip of the tongue' phenomenon -- are common early symptoms. And although they might not interfere with someone's job in the beginning, they will as they worsen.

"If it really is early Alzheimer's and it progresses over the years, the person's memory and cognitive ability become more impaired," said Dr. David Loewenstein, chief of psychiatry at the University of Miami. This can affect a person's attention to detail and their ability to keep track of situations and react accordingly -- all of which affect a person's ability to do their job. For Ronald Reagan, the job was running the country.

Ron Reagan's half-brother, Michael Reagan, has publicly rejected the notion that their father had symptoms of Alzheimer's during his tenure as president.

"Look what he accomplished in the last four years of his presidency: Reykjavik, START agreements, all the things he accomplished. The speech at the Berlin Wall in 1987 on June 12th," Michael Reagan said in an interview on CBS' The Early Show. "Someone with dementia does not accomplish all of those things."

But depending on the level of support people have in organizing their daily lives, early symptoms of Alzheimer's may go unnoticed, Loewenstein said.

"A lot of people in very high positions -- not just presidents -- are surrounded by people who organize their lives and cover for them," Loewenstein said. "I've seen cases where people are, frankly, demented and actually very impaired in doing their job, but they're covered for so successfully by their staff."

"A lot of people do notice changes and get upset," Loewenstein said. "But there are others who don't notice them at all. The changes are really seen by those around them. We don't know what other colleagues saw and we may never know. But even when certain people are aware, they tend to downplay it."

Age is a risk factor for Alzheimer's. And at 69, Ronald Reagan was the oldest man to be elected president. During his campaign, he pledged to resign if he became "senile" -- a term that refers to age-related dementia -- while in office.

But without a clinical evaluation by a neuropsychologist, Alzheimer's disease in its early stages is difficult to detect, Loewenstein said.

"We're coming up with better biomarkers. And in the future, we may have better medical tests," he said.

But if you do notice cognitive changes in yourself or someone else, talking to a doctor early can make a significant difference.

"Even though there's no cure, there are treatments. The earlier you get started, the better the outcome," said Dr. Small.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Omega-3 May Not Slow Cognitive Decline of Alzheimer’s

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- A new trial shows that patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease reap no apparent benefits from taking supplements with the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA.

In an 18-month trial of more than 400 patients, it was found that the rate of change -- measured on the cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale -- actually increased 7.98 points among those given DHA, compared with 8.27 points among the placebo group. The findings were reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Dr. Joseph F. Quinn of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland and colleagues.

Patients also showed no rate of change on the Clinical Dementia Rating -- which was an increase of 2.87 points for the DHA supplement group and 2.93 for those on placebo.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Researchers Find Smoking Increases Risk of Dementia

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Everyone pretty much agrees smoking can cause cancer and other serious diseases, but new research now suggests smoking could also increase your risk of dementia. 

More than 20,000 people in the U.S. were questioned between 1978 and 1985 about their smoking habits.  In 2008, statistics on dementia diagnosis among that group were gathered. 

Scientists from the University of Finland reviewed the data and found those who reported smoking more than two packs of cigarettes a day at the time of the survey had a 100% greater risk of being diagnosed later in life with a type of dementia like Alzheimer's disease compared to non-smokers.

The research appears in the newest edition of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Alzheimer's Advances: Promising But Slow-Going

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- It's been nearly a decade since the FDA approved a new treatment for Alzheimer's disease patients.  Like much of disease research, many early studies show some promise, but researchers say finding advances in prevention and treatment for Alzheimer's has been just as slow as the progression of the disease itself.

"It's problematic," said Dr. Gary Small, director of the Center on Aging at the University of California-Los Angeles.  "We have no disease-modifying treatments."

The FDA has only approved two types of medication to improve cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer's disease such as memory loss, according to the Alzheimer's Association.  But there is no treatment that stops or reverses its progression.

The problem could lay in not enough study participants and not enough funding for clinical trials, according to the Alzheimer's Association.  About $6 billion of funding is funneled to cancer research, and $4 billion is spent on heart disease research.  Only $500 million has been allocated to Alzheimer's research, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

According to some experts, the problem lies, in part, with researchers not able to identify which mechanisms in the brain to target when studying potential treatments.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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