Are scientists looking at the impact statins might have on memory? My husband has permanent memory damage from statins and experiences episodes of global amnesia. [ 05/03/13 ]
Researchers have evaluated more than 50 reports from consumers and health care providers regarding the relationship between statins and memory. Indeed, there are reports of amnesia with these cholesterol-lowering medications. Some scientists attribute the memory complaints to the lowering of cholesterol while others attribute memory problems in these patients to other effects of the statins themselves. Memory problems are usually reversible once the statin is stopped, and they are probably infrequent; however, there have been complaints of persistent memory loss. Whether global and persistent amnesia can be caused by statins is still an area of controversy. Interestingly, epidemiologic evidence suggests that taking statins in midlife to control cholesterol reduces dementia risk later in life. There is no convincing evidence, however, that taking statins in later life improves cognition.
What is the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia? [ 04/29/13 ]
Dementia is a decline in thinking, reasoning, and/or remembering. People with dementia have difficulty carrying out daily tasks they have performed routinely and independently throughout their lives. Vascular dementia, a hardening of the arteries in the brain that causes blockage in blood flow, is one of the two most common forms of dementia; the other is Alzheimer's disease. These two conditions account for the vast majority of cases; both are irreversible, although sometimes their symptoms can be managed.
A doctor can accurately determine whether a person is suffering from Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. If a person appears to be losing mental abilities to a degree that interferes with daily activities and social interactions, consult a doctor.
Where can I find more information about Alzheimer's disease? [ 04/29/13 ]
BrightFocus’ Alzheimer's Disease Research website goes into greater depth on many topics and covers additional areas of concern, both medical and social. You can learn where to get help and access to resources, as well as download free publications. And explore in-depth articles written by the experts.
For more information dealing with the topics below, please visit the helpful organizations section of our website.
- General Information, Resources, and Referrals
- State and Local Resources
- Caregiving and Caregiver Support
- Government Programs
- Legal Assistance
- Long-Term Care and Living Options
- Research and Clinical Trials
- Hospice Care
Is Alzheimer's disease infectious? [ 04/29/13 ]
The national media made a tragic mistake in labeling Alzheimer's disease as “infectious.” The issue emerged from a highly regarded series of technical reports that described how a protein related to Alzheimer's disease might move from one cell to a neighboring cell. The word “infect” was used to describe an event that may be happening in a single person's brain. The scientific papers do not suggest that the disease might be able to move from one person to another through normal interactions.
Catherine Clelland, Ph.D. of Columbia University, worked on one of the studies quoted in the media and has received prior funding from BrightFocus. She explained:
Our study highlighted that different regions of the brain become altered by Alzheimer's disease over time, through spreading of abnormal tau protein from cells in regions where abnormal tau is initially present, to other, directly connected cells within the brain. It is important to note that there is no evidence from this work, or those of others in the field, that Alzheimer's disease is infectious, or that people who come into contact with Alzheimer's patients are at risk.
It is true that, in animal studies, it has been shown that removing portions of an Alzheimer's brain, and surgically implanting it inside a healthy brain, can sicken the previously healthy cells. That is obviously a highly unlikely occurrence in humans. As suggested by Dr. Clelland and others, there is no evidence suggesting that animals or humans living and interacting with one another normally can contract the disease from each other.
Unfortunately, the media picked up the word “infection” and used it erroneously in their reporting. That term functions as a way of scientifically describing how a protein might move between cells within one person's body. But the usage of that word has had tremendously negative consequences. It has unnecessarily frightened and isolated many people living with the disease…a disease that is not infectious and not contagious.
In contrast, the engagement, exercise, and mental stimulation that might be found in social environments are believed by some scientists to play a positive role in helping lessen the burden of Alzheimer's disease. Patients and families suffering with Alzheimer's disease have been hidden from society for far too long. Quite the contrary, we need people talking about Alzheimer's and interacting with others to help end this terrible disease.
Definitions: “Infectious” is something that can cause disease; “contagious” is passable between people.
Is my loved one with Alzheimer’s disease suffering emotionally? [ 04/29/13 ]
A patient in the final stages of Alzheimer's disease is unlikely to be aware of her state, and therefore is not suffering emotionally. Sometimes occasional moments of lucidity can occur in such a patient, though this is rare. If your loved one does ever become lucid enough to become aware of her condition, she most likely would also be able to communicate with you that time.
Who is at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease? [ 04/29/13 ]
Familial or early-onset Alzheimer's disease is inherited and develops in people between the ages of 30 and 60. If even one of three gene mutations that causes the disease is inherited from a parent, the child will almost certainly develop Alzheimer's disease. However, less than five percent of patients have early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
Late-onset is usually developed after age 60; this is the most common form of the disease. Its cause is not known and no pattern of inheritance has yet been discovered, although clusters of cases are seen in some families. One particular gene carried by about 25 percent of the American population increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, while another carried by a small proportion of the population substantially protects against the disease. Scientists have identified other genes that may influence the risk of contracting the disease, and further research is ongoing.
Since genetic risk factors are not enough to cause late-onset Alzheimer's disease, researchers are also studying education, diet, and other factors to see if they play a role in developing the disease.
Are resources available for caregivers and people with Alzheimer’s disease? [ 04/29/13 ]
There are a great many such resources available. For instance, every state has a state agency on aging. You may find it in the phone book, online, or with the help of a librarian or friend.
The Alzheimer's Disease Research section of BrightFocus’ website provides caretakers with a great deal of useful information on living with and caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease while also taking care of oneself.
Caretakers are often under tremendous pressure and stress, and it is important that they take advantage of the support and assistance that is available to them. To find caregiver support, information about your rights as a caregiver, how to manage stress, and more, visit BrightFocus’ Caregiver Support page at www.brightfocus.org/alzcaregiving. You can search for a support group in your area at www.brightfocus.org/adsupportgroup.
My mother-in-law is not opening her eyes or talking anymore. What does this mean? [ 03/11/13 ]
Assuming she has Alzheimer’s, your mother-in-law could be in the late stage of the disease. During this stage, people lose the ability to communicate with words. They will sleep often and grunting or moaning is common.
Though a person in the late stage of Alzheimer's typically loses the ability to talk and express needs, they can still experience the world through their senses. There are ways you can engage her—through touch, sound, sight, taste, and smell. Some ideas: play her favorite music; read books to her; go through old photo albums; brush her hair; on a nice day, sit outside with her; rub a nice smelling lotion into her skin; cook a favorite food, and even though she may not eat any, she may recognize the smell.
Can you think of other rituals of the senses she might enjoy?