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.
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.
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.
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.
My great-grandma suffered with Alzheimer’s disease. My grandma (her daughter) is showing the early signs of this condition too. I am worried that my mum and I will suffer from Alzheimer’s at some stage in our life. My mum did an Alzheimer’s test and the results said that she was unlikely to get it. I know my great-grandma married a cousin and there can be genetic health risks associated with that. I just wondered whether there is anything to suggest that this is a hereditary disease or is a disease that can result when blood relatives marry. [ 07/25/12 ]
Only a small percentage of Alzheimer's disease (AD) cases are considered strongly heritable, but research shows that there is also a limited increase in the likelihood of AD in people who have multiple affected relatives. This increase in risk is small, however.
The marriage of blood relatives reduces the opportunity to bring new and different genes into a family, and it slightly increases the likelihood that they might share a disease gene. Although your family's lineage does not seem especially risky, you may want to consult a genetic counselor, who can give you a more detailed risk assessment, if you have concerns about disease inheritance.
My 65-year-old husband has progressed beyond mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease and he is not able to be alone anymore, so I am his full-time care partner. For several months now he gets debilitating diarrhea every time he eats (usually within one hour of eating). It is difficult for him to explain how he is feeling, but he does not appear symptomatic beyond the diarrhea. My question is whether this is related to his Alzheimer’s condition? I am sure his medication isn’t causing this as he has been taking it for quite some time. [ 07/25/12 ]
Although his medications may not be relevant, it's worth considering whether they are playing a role. The cholinesterase inhibitors are known for causing diarrhea. Your husband's primary care physician will also want to check him for other causes of diarrhea including impaction, infection (including parasites), and nerve problems that can be associated with diabetes.
My mother was 35 years old when I was born, and now I am 57. My mother's mom, my mom, and her brother have all had Alzheimer’s disease. Now my oldest sister, who is 74, has the disease as well. Is it still just a wait and see disease or are there tests to determine if someone is in the very early stages? Maybe I could be studied so that my kids do not have to experience the very sad demise that my family members have experienced. Thank you for your input. [ 06/21/12 ]
A recent statement from the Alzheimer's Association and the National Institute on Aging suggested that we should think of Alzheimer's disease as having an early stage in which the brain is increasingly affected but no cognitive changes are yet noticeable. It is likely that neuroimaging and other biomarker tests will soon help us identify people in this stage, but that very early detection is not yet a part of standard assessment.
Alzheimer's disease is a complex disorder, for which there is currently no known prevention or cure. Some research has generated hope that one day it might be possible to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, delay its symptoms, or even prevent it from occurring at all. Although there is preliminary data to support the benefit of some interventions, such as physical activity and cardiovascular risk reduction, nothing at this time has definitively been shown to prevent Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. You and your treating clinicians may want to keep an eye out for clinical trials recruiting families such as yours for early screening and intervention.