Alzheimers Disease Preventative Nasal Vaccine To Be Tested At Boston Hospital
5 healthy lifestyle habits identified as lowering Alzheimer’s risk
A combination of physical activity, not smoking, light alcohol consumption, a good diet and cognitive activities may help lower the risk of the disease by as much as 60 percent, a study found.
Boston’s Brigham and Womens Hospital announced Tuesday that it would test a nasal vaccine for Alzheimers disease.
The move, the hospital said in a press release, represents the culmination of 20 years of research at the institution.
“The launch of the first human trial of a nasal vaccine for Alzheimers is a remarkable milestone,” Dr. Howard Weiner, co-director of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a statement. “If clinical trials in humans show that the vaccine is safe and effective, this could represent a nontoxic treatment for people with Alzheimers, and it could also be given early to help prevent Alzheimers in people at risk.”
The first human clinical trial for the intranasal vaccine is intended to prevent and slow the progression of the disease.
In an interview with FOX News, Weiner discussed the mechanism of Alzheimer’s disease, pointing out that people in their 50s and 60s with no symptoms of Alzheimer’s are developing it.
The vaccine uses the immune modulator Protollin, an investigational intranasal agent that stimulates the immune system.
Memory Loss That Impedes Daily Activities
The most noticeable symptom of Alzheimers disease is often memory loss. A person may start forgetting messages or recent events in a way that is unusual for them. They may repeat questions, having forgotten either the answer or the fact that they already asked.
It is not uncommon for people to forget things as they get older, but with early onset Alzheimers disease, this happens earlier in life, occurs more often, and seems out of character.
Specific Issues Of Early Onset Dementia
As symptoms of dementia occur before the age of 65 and can, very rarely, be as early as the mid-thirties, younger people with dementia have a number of very specific issues. Most, if not all, will be employed and will have financial commitments such as mortgages. They may have young families. They will probably be fit and active. Specifically, they may struggle to find a specialist service that is equipped for the needs of early-onset dementia.
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Problems Writing Or Speaking
The person may also have difficulty with words and communication. They may find it hard to follow or contribute to a conversation, or they may repeat themselves. They may also have difficulty writing down their thoughts.
The person may stop in the middle of a conversation, unable to figure out what to say next. They may also struggle to find the right word or label things incorrectly.
It is not uncommon for people to occasionally struggle to find the right word. Typically, they eventually remember it and do not experience the problem frequently.
Mood Or Personality Changes
Someone with Alzheimers disease may start to experience a low mood. They may feel irritable, confused, anxious, or depressed. They may also lose interest in things they used to enjoy.
They may become frustrated with their symptoms or feel unable to understand the changes taking place. This may present as aggression or irritability toward others.
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Difficulty Determining Time Or Place
Losing track of dates and misunderstanding the passage of time as it occurs are also two common symptoms. Planning for future events can become difficult since they arent immediately occurring.
As symptoms progress, people with AD can become increasingly forgetful about where they are, how they got there, or why theyre there.
How Hard Is It To Get Help
Because it is relatively rare for younger people to be diagnosed with dementia, services and interventions tend to be geared towards people aged 65 years and over. This means that often it is very difficult for younger people and their families to access support, especially at the beginning.
For example, people with dementia are usually seen by an old age psychiatrist, but if the person is under 65, it may not be clear which specialist they should see. Will the local old age psychiatrist be willing to see the person or should it be the neurologist? Accessing services can also be complicated. Which social services team will be responsible for ongoing care management one that deals with mental health among working age adults or one that works with older people with dementia? Can a younger person with dementia attend a day facility for older people? Many younger people with dementia and their families experience great frustration as they work through these bureaucratic hurdles.
Activities too in a range of settings are often planned with much older and more physically frail people in mind. An activity that is suitable for a 90-year-old woman with limited mobility say, a discussion group may be completely inappropriate for an active 50-year-old man with fronto-temporal dementia who wants to walk all day, every day.
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Confusion About Location And Time
The person may experience confusion about places or times. They may have difficulty keeping track of seasons, months, or times of day.
They may become confused in an unfamiliar place. As Alzheimers disease progresses, they may feel confused in familiar places or wonder how they got there. They may also start to wander and get lost.
Problems With Vision And Spatial Awareness
Alzheimers disease can sometimes cause vision problems, making it difficult for people to judge distances between objects. The person may find it hard to distinguish contrast and colors or judge speed or distance.
These vision problems combined can affect the persons ability to drive.
Normal aging also affects eyesight, so it is essential to have regular checkups with an eye doctor.
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Health Environmental And Lifestyle Factors That May Contribute To Alzheimer’s Disease
Research suggests that a host of factors beyond genetics may play a role in the development and course of Alzheimer’s disease. There is a great deal of interest, for example, in the relationship between cognitive decline and vascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, as well as metabolic conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Ongoing research will help us understand whether and how reducing risk factors for these conditions may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
A nutritious diet, physical activity, social engagement, sleep, and mentally stimulating pursuits have all been associated with helping people stay healthy as they age. These factors might also help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Clinical trials are testing some of these possibilities.
Early-life factors may also play a role. For example, studies have linked higher levels of education with a decreased risk of dementia. There are also differences in dementia risk among racial groups and sexesall of which are being studied to better understand the causes of Alzheimers disease and to develop effective treatments and preventions for all people.
Symptoms Of Frontotemporal Dementia
Signs of frontotemporal dementia can include:
- personality and behaviour changes acting inappropriately or impulsively, appearing selfish or unsympathetic, neglecting personal hygiene, overeating, or loss of motivation
- language problems speaking slowly, struggling to make the right sounds when saying a word, getting words in the wrong order, or using words incorrectly
- problems with mental abilities getting distracted easily, struggling with planning and organisation
- memory problems these only tend to occur later on, unlike more common forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease
There may also be physical problems, such as slow or stiff movements, loss of bladder or bowel control , muscle weakness or difficulty swallowing.
These problems can make daily activities increasingly difficult, and the person may eventually be unable to look after themselves.
Read more about the symptoms of frontotemporal dementia.
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Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies is caused by the build-up of tiny protein deposits in the brain. DLB is less common in younger people with dementia than in older people. Lewy bodies also cause Parkinsons disease and about one-third of people with Parkinsons eventually develop dementia.Symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies can include hallucinations and varying levels of alertness. People can also develop the features of Parkinsons disease .
What is dementia with Lewy bodies?
Find out more about dementia with Lewy bodies, diagnosis and how to treat it.
Finding A Huge Gap In Services And Supports For Younger People
âI unfortunately ran into that brick wall where I was ineligible for just about everything because of my age.â â Faye.
Most social programs and services are designed for older people with dementia. In comparison, the number of programs designed for people living with young onset dementia is sparse.
People living with young onset dementia may not find the programs intended for older adults interesting or beneficial in respect to their needs. They may not feel comfortable in a seniorsâ program. And even if they were interested and comfortable in joining a program, they might be ineligible because of their age!
We have a gap in our knowledge about young onset dementia. As a result, there simply aren’t enough information, support, financial aid and services adapted for younger people living with dementia.
However, this is changing. The Young Onset Gap Analysis Project, initiated through the National Information Support and Education Committee and the Alzheimer Society of Canada , explored the gaps of available learning and support resources for people living with young onset dementia, and sought advice and feedback from those with lived experience.
The information from this report is being used to develop new resources dedicated to education and support for people living with young onset dementia, families, caregivers and healthcare providers.
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Common Types Of Dementia In Younger People
There are differences in the types of dementia commonly diagnosed in younger people with dementia compared to those of an older age.
- Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia in younger people, accounting for around a third of younger people with dementia, in comparison to about 60% in the older age group
- Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia in young people. Around 20% of younger people with dementia have vascular dementia
- Around 12% of younger people with dementia have frontotemporal dementia, compared with just 2% in older people. It most commonly occurs between the ages of 45-65. In about 40% of cases there is a family history of the condition
- Korsakoffs syndrome around 10% of dementias in younger people are caused by a lack of vitamin B1 , most commonly associated with alcohol abuse
How Does A Doctor Test For Dementia
There is no single diagnostic test for Alzheimers disease and other causes of dementia. Dementias are diagnosed by evaluating and understanding a persons memory and thinking patterns. Doctors will consider a persons memory, grasp of language, mood states, problem-solving skills, ability to maintain focus and perform complex tasks. Evaluation may include in-office cognitive screening , physical examination, and review of labs. Labwork helps to determine whether there are vitamin deficiencies or hormonal changes at play. In some cases, evaluation may require neuropsychological testing, brain imaging , and genetic testing.
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How Is Alzheimers Disease Diagnosed
Talk to a doctor if you or a loved one is finding it increasingly difficult to perform day-to-day tasks, or if you or a loved one is experiencing increased memory loss. They may refer you to a doctor who specializes in AD.
Theyll conduct a medical exam and a neurological exam to aid in the diagnosis. They may also choose to complete an imaging test of your brain. They can only make a diagnosis after the medical evaluation is completed.
Theres no cure for AD at this time. The symptoms of AD can sometimes be treated with medications meant to help improve memory loss or decrease sleeping difficulties.
Research is still being done on possible alternative treatments.
Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
Some people may experience a greater problem with concentration. Routine day-to-day tasks requiring critical thought may take longer as the disease progresses.
The ability to drive safely may also be called into question. If you or a loved one gets lost while driving a commonly traveled route, this may be a symptom of AD.
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At What Age Can You Test Someone For The Signs Of Dementia
There is no one particular age that someone must meet before they can be assessed for signs of dementia, although dementia is more common in people over 65. Early-onset dementia can begin in people who are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Diagnosing dementia in its early stages is important as early treatment can slow the progression of symptoms and help to maintain mental functions.
Is Dementia A Mental Illness
Dementia is a mental health disorder as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association changed the name to Major Neurocognitive Disorder, which is a mouthful. The change was made in order to provide a clearer description of the problem. Whats most important to know is that dementias can involve changes to emotions, behaviors, perceptions, and movements in addition to memory and thinking.
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Problem Solving Or Planning Difficulties
The person may find that they have difficulty following directions, solving problems, and focusing. For example, they may find it difficult to:
- follow a recipe
- follow directions on a product
- keeping track of monthly bills or expenses
Some people often have problems like these, but if they start to happen when they did not happen before, it could indicate early onset Alzheimers disease.
Why Should This Matter To You
Under pressure from Congress and industry, FDA standards have loosened in recent years, and the agency often approves products based on biomarkers that have good but inconclusive evidence of clinical benefit. For example, cancer drugs are often approved based on tumor shrinkage or progression-free survival and studies conducted after the drugs are in widespread use have shown that many do not help patients live longer. Osteoporosis drugs have been approved based on bone mineral density or microscopic bone fractures, rather than hip fractures that harm health.
If Alzheimers drugs are held to similarly low standards, patients will be the ones to pay, in terms of drug costs and less ability to function.
Read our published article here.
BMJ 2015 351 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h6122 Cite as: BMJ 2015 351:h6122
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How To Diagnose Alzheimers Vs Dementia
Alzheimers is a progressive and fatal brain disorder. Dementia is not a specific disease, but an umbrella term that defines a syndrome and used to refer to a specific group of symptoms related to a decline in mental ability. Alzheimers is one of the most common causes of dementia. Both Alzheimers and dementia are diagnosed using a variety of different assessments and tests, including a physical exam, lab tests, cognitive and neuropsychological tests, and an analysis of changes in behavior.
Your Height As A Teenager May Be Linked With Dementia Risk New Study Finds
While there are some known risk factors for developing dementia, such as genetics, theres a lot experts still dont know about why some people develop the disease. Now, a new study has found a surprising link between height in young adulthood and the risk of dementia.
The study, which was published in the journal eLife, analyzed data on 666,333 Danish men born between 1939 and 1959 including 70,608 brothers and 7,388 twinsfrom Danish national registries. Of those men, 10,599 developed dementia later in life.
The researchers looked at the mens heights and found that there was about a 10 percent reduction in their risk of developing dementia for every six centimeters of height in men who were above the average height of five feet, nine inches. The relationship also existed when the researchers analyzed data for brothers who had different heights, which suggested genetics alone couldnt explain why shorter men in the study had a larger risk of developing dementia. Researchers also adjusted for educational level and intelligence test scores.
This isnt the first time height has been linked to dementia risk. One meta-analysis, published in 2014, analyzed height and deaths from dementia and found that taller people were less likely to die of the disease. A case-control study published in the Journal of Alzheimers Disease found that taller men had a 59 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimers disease than men who were shorter than five feet, five inches.
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Treatments For Frontotemporal Dementia
There’s currently no cure for frontotemporal dementia or any treatment that will slow it down.
But there are treatments that can help control some of the symptoms, possibly for several years.
- medicines to control some of the behavioural problems
- therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy for problems with movement, everyday tasks and communication
- dementia activities such as memory cafes, which are drop-in sessions for people with memory problems and their carers to get support and advice
- support groups who can offer tips on managing symptoms from dementia experts and people living with frontotemporal dementia, and their families
What Kind Of Doctor Tests For Dementia
A primary care doctor can perform a physical exam and find out more about your symptoms to determine what may be the cause. They will likely refer you to one or several specialists that can perform specific tests to diagnose dementia. Specialists may include neurologists, who specialize in the brain and nervous system psychiatrists or psychologists, who specialize in mental health, mental functions, and memory or geriatricians, who specialize in healthcare for older adults.
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