Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimer’s disease’

The road to a healthy heart is the road to a healthy brain

What if we told you that you could live your life in simple ways that give you a very, very good chance of having a healthy heart and a sharp brain well into old age? No special drugs, no special surgeries, no amazing scientific discoveries and no wonder cures. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? And it’s simple. Science is beginning to understand that the route to a healthy brain and healthy heart might be pretty … Read More

Brain Insitute speaker: Mad Cow expert and neuroscience pioneer

Did you know that, according to the American Red Cross, you are forbidden from donating blood in the United States if you have spent a cumulative time of three months or more in the United Kingdom, from Jan. 1, 1980 through December 31, 1996? The reason? It stems from the discovery that in some parts of the world, cattle can get an infectious, fatal brain disease called Mad Cow Disease. In these same locations, humans … Read More

How our brains wash away the gunk during sleep

You wake on Saturday morning, drag your body out of bed and survey your home. You had entertained houseguests the night before, and it shows. Friends and family had filled your home, loud voices and much conversation echoed within your walls and everyone went home much later than you had planned. And now it is time to pay the piper. A full Saturday’s worth of dishwashing, floor scrubbing and shelf wiping stares you back in … Read More

‘Neuroprotection’: an elusive goal in fighting brain diseases

About 15 years ago, I wrote an article about treating Alzheimer’s disease that divided treatments into two categories: “symptomatic” and “neuroprotectant.” There were real options in the former category. But the “neuroprotectant” idea was more theoretical — more of a “coming attractions” approach — citing the studies that were underway to identify treatments that would actually save brain cells, protecting those neurons from further harm, and actually slowing or arresting the disease process. Sadly, despite … Read More

The continuing search for the answer to Alzheimer’s disease

Alois Alzheimer, a German physician in 1906, was studying a woman who came to his clinic complaining about memory loss, language problems, and behavioral changes. She ultimately died of complications from her illness. After her death, Dr. Alzheimer examined her brain and found abnormal protein clumps, now referred to as amyloid deposits, and bundles of fibers, now called neurofibrillary tangles. The dementia exhibited by this patient acquired the name Alzheimer’s dementia because of its discovery … Read More

False hopes and real risks with Alzheimer’s ‘treatments’

“What do I have to lose?” I hear this question regularly from patients who want to try the latest “breakthrough” in Alzheimer’s research featured on television or YouTube.  These are typically things that either have been tested in animals with no human studies or things that have been tested haphazardly in small numbers of patients and then vigorously hyped. For example, curcumin is a component of curry that has been tested in animals, with a … Read More

‘The mysteries of the mind’ — Brain Awareness Season lectures begin Feb. 25

Oregonians becoming “brain aware” — that is the goal of the OHSU Brain Institute’s Brain Awareness Season Lecture Series. Everyone wonders or worries about their brain. There is so much to learn and understand. And brain science — neuroscience — transforms society, from parenting to prisons, from autism discoveries to Alzheimer’s prevention and from creating new policies to improving current medical practices. The 2013 Brain Awareness Lecture series — which begins Feb. 25 and runs … Read More

Is ‘tau’ the new front line in the Alzheimer’s fight?

Patients and their family members have been bringing me clippings from that famous medical journal, “The Wall Street Journal,” asking me if it’s true that Alzheimer’s research is now focused on something called “tau.” As I wrote in an earlier blog post, the leading hypothesis until very recently was that “amyloid,” the stuff in the brain plaques in Alzheimer’s, was the cause of the disease due to toxic effects on brain cells. I also noted … Read More

New test that predicts Alzheimer’s?

What if we could predict who would one day go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease? There is no definitive test for Alzheimer’s disease. Neurologists and others who specialize in treating dementia are very accurate in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease once symptoms have begun. Memory or other thinking problems and performance on different kinds of cognitive tests give a good indication of whether someone has dementia or another condition that can cause memory problems. Once a diagnosis … Read More

How do we measure success in treating Alzheimer’s?

My first couple of blog posts were focused on directions in research on Alzheimer’s disease. So this time I’d like to turn to the routine clinical care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. As the Affordable Care Act takes effect in the next few years, there will be an increased emphasis on outcomes rather than procedures. This makes good sense, but it remains to be seen how this idea is going to be … Read More

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