Tag Archives: Brain Health

BRAIN RESEARCH: 40% OF DEMENTIA CASES PREVENTED WITH LIFESTYLE CHANGES

“We are learning that tactics to avoid dementia begin early and continue throughout life, so it’s never too early or too late to take action,” says commission member and AAIC presenter Lon Schneider, MD, co-director of the USC Alzheimer Disease Research Center‘s clinical core and professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences and neurology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

LOS ANGELES — Modifying 12 risk factors over a lifetime could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases, according to an updated report by the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC 2020).

Twenty-eight world-leading dementia experts added three new risk factors in the new report — excessive alcohol intake and head injury in mid-life and air pollution in later life. These are in addition to nine factors previously identified by the commission in 2017: less education early in life; mid-life hearing loss, hypertension and obesity; and smoking, depression, social isolation, physical inactivity and diabetes later in life (65 and up).

Schneider and commission members recommend that policymakers and individuals adopt the following interventions:

  • Aim to maintain systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or less from the age of 40.
  • Encourage use of hearing aids for hearing loss and reduce hearing loss by protecting ears from high noise levels.
  • Reduce exposure to air pollution and second-hand tobacco smoke.
  • Prevent head injury (particularly by targeting high-risk occupations).
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than 21 units per week (one unit of alcohol equals 10 ml or 8 g pure alcohol).
  • Stop smoking and support others to stop smoking.
  • Provide all children with primary and secondary education.
  • Lead an active life into mid-life and possibly later life.
  • Reduce obesity and the linked condition of diabetes.

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BRAIN HEALTH: “DEMENTIA” – SYMPTOMS AND CONDITIONS

We ARE our brains. Reduce the function of any other organ, and we may be sick, but reduce the function of the brain, and WE have changed.

PROGRESSIVE LOSS of brain function is called DEMENTIA. A sudden, temporary (if the cause can be found) is called Delirium. A variety of bad things can cause dementia, such as infections (AIDS), toxins (lead, mercury), chemicals (alcohol), traumatic (CTE from football), diet deficiencies (B12, folic acid), Endocrine deficiencies (thyroid),Psychiatric problems (depression), drugs, and Vascular problems.

The Preceding article on dementia discussed APATHY, as opposed to the somewhat similar DEPRESSION, as a warning sign for SVD, or small blood-vessel disease. SVD is the most common VASCULAR cause of Dementia.

The most common overall cause of Dementia, especially in old age, is ALZHEIMER’S disease (AD). “Senior Moments” are so common as to be a cliche. But this problem is not limited to old age. My 3-year-old Grandson came crying to me that he lost his favorite toy. “Where was it when you last saw it”?, I asked. “It was in my hand” he answered.

He had laid it somewhere, unthinkingly. You can’t remember something unless you ENCODE it. You must be paying attention to, be “mindful” of an action if you are to remember that action.. You will not remember where you put your glasses if you wander around in “default mode”, daydreaming, preoccupied. Everybody occasionally forgets a name, or item which hangs on “the end of my tongue”.

These things, especially “short term memory” do DETERIORATE AS WE GET OLDER. It is common to wonder if we, or a loved one. are getting Alzheimer’s disease, as our mental powers wane.It is often difficult to distinguish the normal forgetfulness of age from DEMENTIA, including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) It might be a source of REASSURANCE to realize that if you are worried about getting AD YOURSELF, you almost certainly don’t have it; It takes a lot of mental functioning to contemplate that possibility.

Most often, you will be wondering about the possibility in a loved one having AD. There are 2 ideas that I ran across in my reading that might help you do a little evaluation Yourself.

BCGuidelines.ca has a 21 item questionnaire that you can score yourself. 4 points or less is considered normal, so common is forgetfulness. 5-14 points suggests mild cognitive impairment. 15 or more points suggests Dementia, of which AD is the most common type.

The test I really liked was the “Clock Test”. In this test, you draw a large circle. You then ask your loved one to draw a clock, with all the numbers and hands that will indicate 10 minutes after 11. If it is drawn correctly, you can with reasonable certainty EXCLUDE Dementia.

If incorrect, further tests are warranted. I consulted with a Neurologist regarding a friend of mine who has marked memory loss, but is very sweet, is physically capable, takes care of herself personally, doesn’t wander around, has no apparent anxiety, depression or other psychological problems.

I asked if it was reasonable to just watch without any medical intervention. The neurologist said that she should have a blood test, a metabolic panel, TSH (thyroid), LFTs, folic acid and B12 tests, and a CT to rule out NPH (normal pressure hydrocephalus). It is rare to find anything treatable, but a shame to neglect it if present.

If you do see a doctor about a Spouse or Parent with possible dementia, you might request that they discuss the possibilities with you, but ask them not to write the diagnosis of “Alzheimer’s “ in the chart. Private Assisted Living Homes CHARGE A LOT MORE for that Diagnosis– locked facilities, more personnel and the like. BDNF- brain derived neurotrophic factor- can fend off Dementia.

That is the good news. The bad news is that it takes effort and discipline to increase your level od BDNF.; I’m sure medical science is hot on the trail of a pill. But until then, our old friends, Sleep, Diet and Exercise ride to the rescue. Sleep, both N3 and REM stages, increases BDNF. Dietary polyphenols and butyrate increase BDNF. exercise of all kinds will do it.

The BDNF gene codes for the BDNF protein, which promotes the survival, expansion, and differentiation of Neuronal stem cells, and promotes neuronal PLASTICITY, neuronal response to experience. Grit your teeth and develop the HABIT of exposing your Postmodern Body to 3 of the most ICONIC and NATURAL things mandated by Evolution, Treat your Body to the Health-giving Benefits of SLEEP, DIET and EXERCISE!

–Dr. C

COGNITION & BRAIN STUDIES: APATHY, NOT DEPRESSION, ASSOCIATED WITH DEMENTIA

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We tested the hypothesis that apathy, but not depression, is associated with dementia in patients with SVD. We found that higher baseline apathy, as well as increasing apathy over time, were associated with an increased dementia risk. In contrast, neither baseline depression or change in depression was associated with dementia. The relationship between apathy and dementia remained after controlling for other well-established risk factors including age, education and cognition. Finally, adding apathy to models predicting dementia improved model fit. These results suggest that apathy may be a prodromal symptom of dementia in patients with SVD.

Cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) is the leading vascular cause of dementia and plays a major role in cognitive decline and mortality.1 2 SVD affects the small vessels of the brain, leading to damage in the subcortical grey and white matter.1 The resulting clinical presentation includes cognitive and neuropsychiatric symptoms.1

Apathy is a reduction in goal-directed behaviour, which is a common neuropsychiatric symptom in SVD.3 Importantly, apathy is dissociable from depression,3 4 another symptom in SVD for which low mood is a predominant manifestation.5 Although there is some symptomatic overlap between the two,6 research using diffusion imaging reported that apathy, but not depression, was associated with white matter network damage in SVD.3 Many of the white matter pathways underlying apathy overlap with those related to cognitive impairment, and accordingly apathy, rather than depression, has been associated with cognitive deficits in SVD.7 These results suggest that apathy and cognitive impairment are symptomatic of prodromal dementia in SVD.

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TECHNOLOGY: “TELESTROKE” NETWORKS ARE SAVING LIVES

From Fast Company article (June 26, 2020):

An increasing number of hospitals are now equipping emergency vehicles to treat stroke patients while en route to the ER. UCHealth is a health system in Colorado that has a tricked-out ambulance, the Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit. A neurologist at the hospital is connected wirelessly through telehealth to the vehicle. First responders’ gear includes portable CT scanners and tPA.

Currently, there are also more than two dozen telestroke networks in the United States. At the hub of each is a large hospital with on-call neurologists, and broadband that connects the hospital directly to satellite hospitals and clinics. There’s always a neurologist on call to guide the smaller hospital staffs’ treatment of a stroke patient.

When I had a stroke five years ago at 10:20 on a Saturday night, telehealth saved my life. At the time, only 3% to 5% of people in the United States were able to get the “clot-busting” drug called tPA in time to avoid brain damage.

In addition to offering telestroke capabilities, healthcare providers should equip emergency vehicles with portable ultrasound devices and defibrillators. Rural communities can consider strategically deploying high-powered wired and wireless hotspots in case patients need immediate medical attention while still en route to the hospital. Following natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods, mobile hotspots configured for telehealth could be helicoptered into isolated communities.

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COMMENTARY

SPEED is especially important when a blood clot blocks an artery servicing an important organ. Our Heart and BRAIN top the list of vital organs. TELESTROKE  showcases Telemedicine at its best.

RECOGNITION of a stroke is a weak link in the chain of prompt Brainsaving treatment, and a Mnemonic helps.

—Facial assymetry or drooping
—Arm or leg weakness on one side
—Speech disturbance
—Time is all important

FAST is a good mnemonic, and adding B for balance and E for Eye, or vision loss, for BEFAST gives 2 more parameters to think about.

Living alone adds to the challenge, so be as focused as you can. I was interested to hear that some TELESTROKE ambulances are adding mobile CT and drug (tpa) capabilities, in addition to TELECONFERENCING with a NEUROLOGIST. Treating a stroke within 15 minutes is becoming a possibility.

So particularly if you have risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes or obesity, be on the alert for symptoms of stroke.

—Dr. C.

OPINION: HEART AND BRAIN HEALTH ARE LINKED FOR LIFE

Your heart and your brain are your two most vital organs, and if you enjoy life, they should be a top priority. These amazing structures are tethered to life-giving support by your arteries, just as the new you was tethered by your ubilical cord.

Life is fragile, hanging by a thread, or an artery. over the span of your life, These arteries can become plugged by fatty deposits called plaques. A healthy life style-SLEEP, DIET and EXERCISE– could slow down or prevent this atherosclerosis.

But everybody should know about the symptoms of HEART ATTACK and STROKE (1) and how to respond if the arteries sustaining your heart or brain become blocked.

You should be familiar with the hospitals in your area. How close are they? What are their capabilities? Are they Class 1 for heart attacks and stroke? Do they have a CATH LAB?

SPEED is important. Within minutes of the BLOCKAGE of an ARTERY to your heart or brain, vital cells start to die. The goal is to remove the blockage as soon as possible. CALL 911 as soon as you have heart attack or stroke symptoms. Don’t be afraid of the ER because of Covid, since almost all now use TELEMEDICINE SCREENING to keep infected patients segregated.

Alas, for many people, such PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE requires too much SELF DISCIPLINE AND CONVICTION. America has an epidemic of OBESITY and an avalanche of tasty FAST FOODS provided by a CONSUMER SOCIETY that is ever-attentive to the latest fads and trends.

DR. C