Guest Author - Debbie Mandel
Many Alzheimerís patients have been disappointed by the hype of drugs like Aricept for improving the middle and late stages. In fact, Aricept did nothing for my mother. However, new research suggests that a drug like Aricept might be helpful in the early stages of mild impairment. Now, this might be worth a try.
New UCLA research suggests that the treatment of early symptoms of memory loss may protect the brain and help people with mild age-related memory impairment from worsening. Positron emission technology (PET) scans of patientsí brains typically reveal a decreased rate of metabolism in the Alzheimerís brain. The PET scan has become a helpful tool in evaluating medications and treatments.
In the UCLA study a small sample of adults with mild age-related memory loss was randomly given a daily placebo or the drug Aricept. Both groups were given PET brain scans before and after 18 months of treatment. The good news: The Aricept groupís PET scans showed brains with an increased metabolism and even appeared more normal than the brains of the group taking the placebo. However, when given memory tests, the news didnít seem to correspond to the PET scan results because both groups scored the same on memory tests. The researchers resolve this discrepancy by explaining that PET scans could be more sensitive than neuropsychological tests. While this explanation seems theoretically plausible, actions and in this case activities of daily living, speak louder than PET scan results to me!
Meanwhile New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center is pleased by the results of an ongoing Phase II clinical trial of GAMMAGARD Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IGIV) for Alzheimer's disease.
The nine-month results show significantly improved cognitive performance and daily functioning in patients treated with IGIV compared to those taking the placebo. The scientists actually measured activities of daily living as evaluated by hands-on caregivers. Activities of daily living were evaluated according to three levels of decline, from best case scenario to worst: 1) overall independence 2) supervision/required verbal reminders 3) necessary physical assistance for daily tasks like eating, bathing, dressing, reading, travel and cooking. The research team found that IGIV patients either improved or slightly declined over the nine-month period. However, subjects in the placebo group showed a greater drop in their activities of daily living score. Letís stay tuned for the results of the broader phase three trials.
What does all this mean to you? Everybody is working on preventing, treating, reversing or arresting this dread disease in its tracks. From immunotherapy to enzyme therapy amazing research is taking place. Meanwhile do your daily exercise, follow a heart-smart diet, manage stress by lowering your blood pressure and rid your body of inflammation. If you have high cholesterol, statins reduce the risk of Alzheimerís. Keep on learning and growing as a person.
For more information on dealing with Alzheimer's read my book, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show