Can hypocalcemia cause Alzheimer's disease? [ 11/09/12 ]
There is no evidence that hypocalcemia causes Alzheimer's disease. Hypocalcemia, however, might indicate malnutrition. Furthermore, whatever the cause, when calcium is very low, it can cause confusion that resembles dementia without it being Alzheimer's disease.
My grandmother has Alzheimer's disease and has begun to scratch constantly to the point of causing sores. She has been given medication to stop this behavior, but it causes her to sleep all day. Without medication she sleeps 15 or more hours a night and my dad has great trouble waking her. When she takes the medication she sleeps the entire day and night. The scratching seems to be a habit. For example, one day when my dad was helping her out of a chair she started scratching his back. Is her symptom simply “excess movement” and is there another way to handle this without medication? [ 11/09/12 ]
Scratching can represent an adverse response to a medication that she is taking. It can also be a reaction to an environmental allergen, such as the detergent used to wash her bedclothes or clothes. Sometimes, scratching is a response to itchiness caused by dry skin. Unfortunately, your grandmother's impaired memory will not remind her that she has just scratched. She will feel the trace of itchiness that prompted the initial scratching, relieve the sensation again, and perhaps even induce secondary itchiness as a consequence of the repetitive scratching. You may wish to try massaging her skin with a soothing lotion to see whether that reduces the scratching. As an alternative, there are anti-itch creams like topical diphenhydramine. The oral medications that relieve skin itchiness can be sedating and potentially can impair memory, so they are not the best solution. Please discuss these possibilities with your grandmother's doctor. A dermatologist is likely to provide additional advice.
My father is in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s disease/dementia. He has been experiencing a terrible “heat feeling” on the top of his head. He does not run a fever when this happens. He just kind of stares off into space and then he grabs his head and starts crying. He says it feels like his head is going to explode. He has been to the hospital for this issue; however, because of a pacemaker he cannot have an MRI. Does this sensation sound normal for an Alzheimer’s patient? [ 11/09/12 ]
First, I would look at his medications. If he is taking niacin, or another medication that increases blood flow to the skin, the heat sensation could be related to that medication. Next, consider whether he could be anxious. See when the heat feeling occurs and whether it follows particular stresses or frustrations. Finally, there is a small chance this would represent a focal seizure or other neurological problem that can be addressed by a neurologist.
What is the karyotype for Alzheimer’s disease? [ 10/17/12 ]
The term “karyotype” means a description of the number and appearance (under a microscope) of the chromosomes in a cell nucleus. Alzheimer's disease heritability is influenced by genes, but for most patients with AD the karyotype would not look different from that of someone without the disease.
One important exception is in people with Down syndrome. In this disease, there is an abnormal karyotype that includes 3 copies of chromosome 21 (trisomy). People with Down syndrome are much more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those in the general population.
I cut the hair of a 77-year-old lady with Alzheimer's disease. I believe that she is the second stage of the disease. I recently noticed when cutting her hair, that the part of her skull in the back and near the top seems to be sunken in a little. Her daughter replied that is related to the Alzheimer’s disease. Is this a normal part of the disease process? [ 10/17/12 ]
Alzheimer's disease does not typically affect the shape of the skull. Brain size often decreases as the disease progresses; however, this is not reflected by any change in the bones of the skull.
Does a stroke impede the growth of plaque on the brain? If so, can the early detection of the disease be halted by mimicking a stroke localized around the plaque? [ 10/17/12 ]
The presence of a stroke actually increases rather than decreases the formation of plaques, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to mimic a stroke around a plaque.
My mother had been suffering from Alzheimer disease for six years. She started taking Exelon; then her doctor changed the medication to Aricept (donepezil), and finally Reminyl (galantamine) in combination with Ebixa (memantine). In addition to these drugs, she takes heart medicines, including Furosemide, Lanoxin, and Levothyroxine. Unfortunately, she died six month ago as a result of her ascites. In my opinion, the ascites occurred due to malfunctioning kidneys, as a result of the Alzheimer’s medications that she was taking. Your “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the website indicates that, on average, patients with Alzheimer`s disease live eight to ten years after diagnosis. How long does Alzheimer`s disease last, on average, for patients if they do not take the conventional treatments. Thank you in advance for your kind assistance. [ 10/17/12 ]
I am sorry for your loss, and many grieving individuals question whether medications prescribed during a terminal illness were more harmful than beneficial. The medications for Alzheimer's disease are not thought to either decrease or increase survival time; however, quality of life is modestly improved for some affected people and their caregivers. Ascites is more typically caused by liver failure than by malfunctioning kidneys, and it is more often the case that malfunctioning kidneys alter the effects of medications rather than vice versa.
Has the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease increased in recent decades? [ 10/17/12 ]
By far, the most important risk factor for Alzheimer's disease is advancing age. With increased longevity, both the incidence (number of new cases per year) and prevalence (number of cases altogether) have increased greatly. Currently, an estimated 5.4 million suffer from Alzheimer's disease in the United States. The number of adults aged 65 years and older is expected to more than double between 2010 and 2050. An especially large increase will occur in the very elderly.