Blog 11/15/2017

Weekly Clinical Service Dose: November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. It can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, and other health problems if it’s not controlled.

One in 10 Americans have diabetes — that’s more than 30 million people. And another 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, someone is diagnosed with diabetes every 21 seconds.

Types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes means that your body does not make enough insulin, from a genetic or autoimmune cause. Type 1 diabetes is less common (about 5% to 10% of cases).

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age, due to generalized degeneration of the brain (loss of brain cells). Essentially, it results in a loss of brain function which affects memory, thinking and behavior. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown and currently there is no known cure, however medical science is working hard to find a solution and to improve treatments for this debilitating disease. There are drug and non-drug treatments which may help with both cognitive and behavioral symptoms including medications for memory loss and treatments for sleep changes. Currently, there are five FDA approved drugs available to help treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s, with several more currently being studied.

Here are a few facts and figures:

  • Alzheimer’s has directly affected approximately 1 in every 2 families in the united states.
  • Alzheimer’s currently affects more than 5 million Americans and that number is likely to triple by 2050.
  • It is the sixth leading cause of death in the USA and is climbing steadily in the rankings.
  • Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia and accounts for about 65% of all dementia worldwide.

4 points you may not know about Alzheimer’s

1- Alzheimer’s is usually detected at the end-stage of the disease.

On average, Alzheimer’s follows a 14-year course from the onset of the first symptoms until death. There is some variability across patients but 14 years is typical. On average, we diagnose Alzheimer’s in years 8-10 of that disease course. This means that for most patients, symptoms go undiagnosed and untreated for at least seven years, during which time the lesions spread through the brain and cause irreparable damage.

*Please be aware that we diagnose Alzheimer’s disease far too late to optimize the effects of currently available treatments.

2- Memory loss is not a part of normal aging.

The point about end-stage detection raises an obvious question about “why” we diagnose this disease so late. There are many contributing factors but most of them can be reduced through awareness and education. Some patients resist medical attention in the early stages because they fear a stigmatizing label or because they are misinformed to believe that Alzheimer’s cannot be treated.

*Please be aware that memory loss is not a part of normal aging and, regardless of the cause of the memory loss, timely medical intervention is best.

3- Alzheimer’s disease can be treated.

Another treatment related concept about which everyone should be aware is this. Preventing or slowing further brain damage is preferable to letting the damage spread without constraint. Many physicians, patients, and caregivers conclude that any treatment short of a cure is not worthwhile. While today it is true that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, that does not mean there is no treatment. With a good diet, physical exercise, social engagement, and certain drugs, many patients (especially those detected at an early stage) can meaningfully alter the course of Alzheimer’s and preserve their quality of life.

*Please be aware that “there is no cure” does not mean “there is no treatment”.

4- Taking good care of your heart will help your brain stay healthy.

The health of your brain is very closely tied to the health of your body, particularly your heart. Researchers have shown conclusively that high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity all confer greater risk for cognitive decline. The mechanisms that keep oxygen-rich blood flowing through your body play a key role in maintaining a healthy brain. Everyone should be aware about the close association between vascular health and cognitive health.

*Please be aware that maintaining good vascular health will help you age with cognitive vitality.

For more information about Alzheimer’s Disease, please visit alz.org.

Have a  question? Contact us at AskANurse@DirectPathHealth.com

 

 

Source: ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION, NYC CHAPTER/ IlluminAge reporting on studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Geriatrics Society/ https://www.alzinfo.org/articles/november-is-alzheimers-awareness-month/

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