My mum is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease and the doctors have decided to withdraw her off memantine. Can you tell me if there will be any side effects? Mum is in a nursing home as she requires 24-hour nursing care. They are saying this is the end. [ 11/09/12 ]
In general, withdrawing memantine is easily accomplished without side effects. The effects of memantine, like those of the other cognitive enhancers, will dissipate over the course of several weeks following discontinuation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was wondering if there was any research into geographic clusters of Alzheimer’s disease. My late mother was diagnosed with this brain disorder and she had mentioned two other people in her apartment building also had the disease. [ 09/20/12 ]
If your mother's apartment building houses many elderly residents, age may be a more important factor than location; however, there have been attempts to study geographical clustering of AD in order to understand the causes of this brain disease more fully. Many researchers have wondered whether location determines exposure to a risk factor in the environment. Other experts have wondered if the geographic clustering may represent to some degree variations in physicians' diagnostic procedures, reporting practices, and medical opinions. So far, though, there appears to be no universal explanation for the observed clustering that raises questions such as yours.
My mom is 71 years old and has been diagnosed with non-Alzheimer’s dementia three months ago. What exactly does this mean? Her mental capacity seems to be fine. Her only symptom is "halted speech." Our family feels that her symptoms more resemble a stroke. Should we seek a second opinion? What should we expect in the days to come? She is in good health and continues to live a normal life, except she has somewhat distanced herself because she is not able to speak. [ 09/18/12 ]
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, but there are many other conditions that interfere with memory, reasoning, language, visual and spatial orientation, and other cognitive abilities. All the other causes, grouped together, are non-Alzheimer's dementia. Many of the patients with non-Alzheimer's dementia have vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, or one of the frontotemporal dementias. If your mother's mental capacity is indeed “fine” and halted speech is her only symptom, a vascular cause may be the explanation for her symptom. It would certainly be reasonable to seek another opinion, this time from a neurologist with expertise in strokes.
When the doctor says a patient has progressed rapidly to end-stage Alzheimer's disease, is there still any benefit to the patient taking Namenda and/or Aricept? [ 09/18/12 ]
The best time, if there is one, for discontinuing cognitive enhancing medications remains arguable and uncertain. Some research has found the benefits of these medications to be modest, but other studies suggest that even late in the course of Alzheimer's disease they may add value to treatment by delaying or reducing changes in behavior that would be difficult to manage.