Tauvid Receives Approval for Tau Pathology Imaging

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News Picture: Tauvid Receives Approval for Tau Pathology Imaging

MONDAY, June 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Tauvid (flortaucipir F18), a radioactive diagnostic agent, was approved to image tau pathology in patients with cognitive impairment being evaluated for Alzheimer disease, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday.

The drug is indicated for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to estimate the density and distribution of aggregated tau neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs). Tauvid is delivered via intravenous injection and binds to brain sites associated with the tau protein, which can be identified through PET scan imaging.

The approval was based on data from two clinical studies in which five blinded evaluators interpreted the Tauvid imaging. In the first study, 156 terminally ill patients agreed to undergo Tauvid imaging and participate in postmortem brain donation. Among 64 patients who died within nine months of the brain scan, researchers compared the Tauvid scan results to postmortem readings from independent pathologists evaluating the density and distribution of NFTs. The evaluators reading the Tauvid images had a high probability of correctly evaluating patients with tau pathology and an average-to-high probability of correctly evaluating those without tau pathology.

In the second study, which included the same 156 patients from the first study, as well as 18 additional terminally ill patients and 159 patients with cognitive impairment, researchers found that agreement between Tauvid evaluators’ readings was 0.87 on a scale of 0 to 1. In a separate subgroup analysis, reader agreement was 0.90 and 0.82 among 82 terminally ill patients diagnosed after death and the 159 with cognitive impairment, respectively.

The most commonly reported adverse reactions were headache, injection site pain, and increased blood pressure. Tauvid is contraindicated in patients with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Approval was granted to Avid Radiopharmaceuticals.

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Maria Shriver and AARP Take on Alzheimer’s in Women

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News Picture: Maria Shriver and AARP Take on Alzheimer's in WomenBy Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 2, 2020 (HealthDay News) — An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is devastating, no matter your sex. But the disease strikes far more women than men.

Journalist and author Maria Shriver is determined to help researchers figure out why women make up two-thirds of those with Alzheimer’s disease. And why certain races and ethnicities are harder hit, too.

“Some of the biggest research challenges in terms of gender disparity reach back to the many years of neglect by researchers to include women in their studies,” said Shriver, 64.

“The lack of female representation in scientific research has left critical gaps in knowledge about the gender differences that exist in our unique bodies and responses to treatment. So we’re starting out from behind,” she explained.

To address some of these issues, Shriver founded the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM). In partnership with AARP, her group just released a new report called “It’s Time to Act: The Challenges of Alzheimer’s and Dementia for Women.” Seventy-five Alzheimer’s and dementia researchers contributed to the report, which includes a 10-year strategic plan for researchers, policymakers and caregivers.

During a virtual meeting to announce the report, Jo Anne Jenkins, CEO of AARP, said, “The lifetime risk for women to develop Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia after age 45 is estimated to be one in five. For men it’s one in 10.”

And the report noted that by the time a woman reaches her 60s, she has more than twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than breast cancer.

What’s more, over 60% of caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia are women, Jenkins noted.

“We’ve made progress, but we don’t yet have enough answers why women have an increased prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease,” Jenkins said.

The new report highlights five crucial steps that could help women achieve meaningful progress against Alzheimer’s disease in the next 10 years:

Eliminate the stigma of dementia

Stigma and misinformation can affect women’s access to early diagnosis and quality care. Shriver said one of the biggest misconceptions is that Alzheimer’s is just a natural feature of aging.

“Alzheimer’s disease is not a health problem that only affects the elderly; it’s a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain,” she said.

Empower women to stay brain healthy

There are important things women can do to keep their brain in better shape. Many of these things — like exercise and eating a healthy diet — help keep the brain and the heart humming.

“How we care for our brains on a regular basis — and from an early age on — will have enormous impact on whether or not we end up with the disease. Adapting our lifestyle behaviors is something within our control,” Shriver said.

When it comes to caring for her own brain, Shriver said, the most important steps she takes are sticking to a healthy diet, incorporating exercise into her routine, prioritizing sleep, reducing stress and discussing any medical concerns or risk factors with her doctor.

Ensure inclusive research

Dementia disproportionately affects women and racial/ethnic minorities. Research needs to include diverse populations. Older black people are twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s compared to whites, yet just 2% of participants in clinical trials of drugs for Alzheimer’s were black.

Support family caregivers

Taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia can be tough, time-consuming work. The report noted it can also take a toll on the caregiver’s health and finances. Family caregivers need access to training and local services that can ensure they get much-needed breaks from caregiving. Family caregivers also need paid leave and health care benefits of their own.

Improve dementia training for health care providers

Medical professionals need training to better spot and treat memory and thinking troubles in older women.

“Doctors should take proactive steps to promote well-being and implement evidence-based, person-centered care … A team-based approach across all health and social care professions will abolish the outdated notion there is nothing you can do about dementia,” Shriver said.


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Elected officials and policymakers also play a role.

“Alzheimer’s disease is 100% fatal. There is no treatment or cure. Of the top 10 causes of death in America, it is the only disease without any effective drug or course of action,” Shriver noted.

Shriver said that nonprofit groups and organizations of physicians, other health care workers and therapists need to demand action on Alzheimer’s disease from their local, state and federal officials.

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SOURCES: Maria Shriver, founder, Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement; May 21, 2020 WAM/AARP report and virtual meeting, “It’s Time to Act: The Challenges of Alzheimer’s and Dementia for Women”

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Healthier Heart, Better Brain in Old Age

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News Picture: Healthier Heart, Better Brain in Old Age

MONDAY, May 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Preventing heart disease may protect you from dementia, researchers say.

The new study looked at nearly 1,600 people, at an average age of 79.5, who were followed for 21 years. Their heart disease risk was assessed at the outset, and participants had annual memory and thinking tests.

The takeaway: People with a higher risk of heart disease also had greater mental (cognitive) decline, including an increase in markers of Alzheimer’s disease. That suggests that monitoring and controlling for heart disease may be important to cognitive health later in life, the researchers said.

The findings were published May 18 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“In the absence of effective treatments for dementia, we need to monitor and control cardiovascular risk burden as a way to maintain patients’ cognitive health as they age,” said study author Weili Xu of the School of Public Health at Tianjin Medical University in China.

“Given the progressive increase in the number of dementia cases worldwide, our findings have both clinical and public health relevance,” Xu said in a journal news release.

Dementia affected 50 million people worldwide in 2017, and the World Health Organization predicts it will affect 82 million people by 2030.

It has no effective treatment, so identifying modifiable risk factors that could delay or prevent dementia is becoming more important.

“The results of this study suggest a useful tool for assessing dementia risk and support recommendations to aggressively manage cardiovascular risk factors in midlife,” Dr. Costantino Iadecola wrote in an accompanying editorial. He is director of the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.

Some previous studies have linked heart disease risks to smaller volumes of specific brain regions, such as white matter, gray matter and hippocampus, but the findings have been inconsistent.

— Robert Preidt

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One of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is __________________.
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References

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, news release, May 18, 2020

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Can Fruits, Tea Help Fend Off Alzheimer’s Disease?

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News Picture: Can Fruits, Tea Help Fend Off Alzheimer's Disease?By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) — If you’re worried about developing Alzheimer’s disease, new research suggests that eating more fruits or drinking more tea or red wine might help protect your brain.

People who had the lowest amounts of fruits — like apples and berries — and red wine and tea in their diets were two to four times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or another related dementia, the study found.

“Diet matters. And the good news is you don’t have to make dramatic changes. Modest changes like going from not eating any berries to eating a cup or two a week can make a difference,” explained the study’s senior author, Paul Jacques. He’s a senior scientist and director of nutritional epidemiology at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.

The researchers suspect that flavonoids — substances naturally found in plant foods — are providing these potential benefits in brain health. One major health benefit associated with flavonoids is reduced inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Jacques noted, however, that the study cannot prove a definitive cause-and-effect relationship between fruits and teas and wine in the diet and dementia. It’s possible that people who eat more fruits or drink more tea or wine may have other healthy habits that affect their dementia risk. But Jacques said the researchers attempted to control for as many of those factors as possible, such as smoking, physical activity and obesity levels.

The research included 2,800 people who were 50 or older when the study began in 1970. Their average age was 59. About half were women, and most participants were white and of European descent.

The study volunteers answered questions about their dietary habits approximately every four years. The information was collected for an average of nearly 20 years. If someone was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, like vascular dementia, the researchers didn’t include diet information in the years leading up to the diagnosis. Jacques explained that as memory and thinking abilities decline, the ability to accurately report what you’ve eaten goes down. Also, people with dementia often change their dietary habits, preferring different foods.

The researchers sorted the diet information into four categories of flavonoids intake. They compared people with the lowest intake to those with the highest intake.

On the low end, people had no berries, about 1.5 apples and no tea during the month. On the highest end, people ate about 7.5 cups of blueberries or strawberries, eight apples or pears and had about 19 cups of tea (green or black) each month.

The researchers found that folks consuming the lowest amounts of apples, pears and tea had twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia or other related dementias.

Consuming the lowest level of blueberries, strawberries and red wine was associated with a fourfold risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other related dementias.

Jacques said a number of factors are suspected in Alzheimer’s disease, including genetics and environmental considerations. Previous research has suggested that diet is a strong environmental factor, and this study adds to that evidence.

“This study also seems to tell us that the risk of dementia varies with people’s dietary intake,” Jacques said.

Heather Snyder, vice president of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer’s Association, agreed that many factors contribute to Alzheimer’s and other related dementias.

“Alzheimer’s disease is complex. Brains are complex. Looking across the life course, genetics, nutrition, education and other factors are all part of a puzzle. This study is another piece in that puzzle,” she said.

Snyder said a strength of this study is its long-term follow-up. But she said it’s important to learn the effect of diet in a larger, more diverse population.

Both experts said it’s better to have a healthy diet throughout your life. But both also said there are likely brain-health benefits if you change your diet to healthier fare no matter what your age.

The study was published online recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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SOURCES: Paul Jacques, Sc.D., senior scientist and director, nutritional epidemiology, USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston; Heather Snyder, Ph.D., vice president, medical and scientific operations, Alzheimer’s Association; April 22, 2020, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online

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Potato & Sausages, Cold Cuts a Bad Combo for Your Brain

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News Picture: Potato & Sausages, Cold Cuts a Bad Combo for Your BrainBy Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) — If your diet consists mostly of processed meats, starches and sugary snacks, you may run the risk of developing dementia, a new study suggests.

“How foods are consumed, not only the quantity consumed, may be important for dementia prevention,” said lead researcher Cecilia Samieri, a senior researcher in epidemiology at the University of Bordeaux in France.

In other words, it’s the total combination of foods, or “network,” that may be damaging, she and her team discovered.

Dementia was more common among folks who ate mostly processed meats like ham and sausages, starches like potatoes, and snacks such as cookies and cakes. People without dementia were more likely to eat a diverse diet that included fruits, vegetables, seafood and poultry, according to the findings.

This study, however, can’t prove that these foods cause dementia or that healthier foods prevent it, said Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Still, Fargo noted that dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, can start developing decades before any symptoms appear, and long-term diet factors may play a role.

“Worse eating habits toward charcuterie and snacking were evident years before dementia diagnosis in our cohort. In contrast, diverse and healthy diets appear to decrease the risk to develop dementia,” Samieri said. Charcuterie includes bacon, ham, sausages and salami.

For the study, Samieri and her colleagues looked at 209 people with dementia and 418 without it in France. Participants were an average of 78 years old and followed for 12 years. They had completed a food questionnaire five years earlier.

Years before the diagnosis, those who developed dementia during the study had a diet very different from those who did not develop dementia, Samieri said.

In people with dementia, highly processed meats, such as sausages, cured meats and paté, formed the “hub” of their diet. These meats were mostly eaten in combination with potatoes, alcohol and sweet snacks, Samieri said.

Moreover, it wasn’t the amount of these foods that seemed to increase the risk for dementia, but rather not eating other healthier foods, she said.

Other studies have found that a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, berries, nuts, whole grains and fish may lower the risk of dementia, Samieri said.

It’s not possible to tell from this study what it is about certain foods that might raise the risk for dementia, she said.

It may be that they’re close to the so-called Western diet that has been linked with heart disease, obesity and diabetes, but that’s only a guess, Samieri noted.

It’s also possible that the frequency of eating unhealthy foods, rather than the quantity, is important in the risk for dementia, she said.

“These findings suggest that promoting a diverse and healthy diet rather than diets centered on processed meats and unhealthy foods could lower the risk to develop dementia, although this deserves confirmation in a randomized controlled trial,” Samieri said.

Fargo said that no one nutrient or kind of food needs to be eliminated from the diet to protect people from dementia.

“It’s really more about the universe of foods that you’re eating, it’s not about one particular food,” he said.

Fargo said having a cheeseburger once in a while probably won’t hurt you, but they shouldn’t be the mainstay of your diet. Skip the fries and cola as the combination may be even unhealthier, he noted.

“Be thoughtful about your dietary intake,” Fargo said. “It’s not about making sure you’re getting one particular nutrient or cutting out one particular kind of food. It’s more about a healthy approach to eating in general, and making sure you’re getting a broad variety and nutritious foods.”

The study was funded by the Alzheimer’s Association and published online April 22 in the journal Neurology.

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SOURCES: Cecilia Samieri, Ph.D., senior researcher epidemiology, University of Bordeaux, France; Keith Fargo, Ph.D., director, scientific programs and outreach, Alzheimer’s Association; April 22, 2020, Neurology, online

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Brain Plaques Signal Alzheimer’s Even Before Other Symptoms Emerge: Study

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News Picture: Brain Plaques Signal Alzheimer's Even Before Other Symptoms Emerge: Study

MONDAY, April 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Even before symptoms develop, the brains of people with early Alzheimer’s disease have high levels of amyloid protein plaques, a new study reveals.

Those levels in older adults with no dementia symptoms are associated with a family history of disease, lower scores on thinking/memory tests, and declines in daily mental function.

The first findings from the so-called A4 study funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA) were published recently in the journal JAMA Neurology. A4 stands for Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study — due for completion in late 2022 — is an ongoing trial that was launched in 2014. It’s investigating whether the drug solanezumab can slow mental decline associated with elevated amyloids if people start taking it before Alzheimer’s symptoms emerge.

Amyloid, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, has been the target of experimental treatments in clinical trials involving people who already have symptoms of the disease.

“A major issue for amyloid-targeting Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials, and one that is being addressed with the A4 study, is that previous trials may have been intervening too late in the disease process to be effective,” said NIA director Dr. Richard Hodes.

“A4 is pioneering in the field because it targets amyloid accumulation in older adults at risk for developing dementia before the onset of symptoms,” he noted in a NIA news release.

The researchers used amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to screen nearly 4,500 older adults for the study. The investigators identified and enrolled more than 1,300 with high amyloid levels in the brain, but no Alzheimer’s symptoms.

The study was the first to use PET to identify people with high levels of amyloid but no signs of mental (“cognitive”) decline, according to Laurie Ryan, chief of the NIA’s Dementias of Aging branch.

“Before the availability of amyloid PET, other amyloid-targeting clinical trials may have been testing therapies in some people who didn’t have amyloid,” she said in the news release.

Lead author Dr. Reisa Sperling, of the neurology department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said screening data for all those who had PET scans is available to other researchers. It may help improve screening and enrollment in other trials designed to prevent Alzheimer’s in people without symptoms, she said.

According to Ryan, “A4 demonstrates that prevention trials can enroll high-risk individuals — people with biomarkers for Alzheimer’s who are cognitively normal. Ultimately, precision medicine approaches will be essential.”

She predicted that Alzheimer’s disease will never have a “one-size-fits-all” treatment. “We’re likely to need different treatments, even combinations of therapies, for different individuals based on their risk factors,” Ryan explained.

— Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: U.S. National Institute on Aging, news release, April 6, 2020

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Certain Gene Might Help Shield At-Risk People From Alzheimer’s

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News Picture: Certain Gene Might Help Shield At-Risk People From Alzheimer'sBy Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) — People who carry a gene called APOE4 face an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. But that effect may be lessened if they got luckier with a different gene, researchers have found.

Scientists have long known that the APOE gene is the strongest genetic influence over whether people develop Alzheimer’s late in life. Those who carry a form of the gene called E4 have a higher-than-average risk.

However, not all APOE4 carriers develop Alzheimer’s — and it’s important to understand what protects those people, said study co-author Dr. Michael Greicius, an associate professor of neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.

Based on his team’s findings, a lot may ride on another gene, called klotho. Among APOE4 carriers, those who also have a “protective” form of klotho are 30% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s by age 80.

Neurologist Dr. Dena Dubal said it suggests that the klotho variant can help the brain “altogether avert harmful effects of APOE4.”

Dubal is an associate editor of JAMA Neurology, which published the study online April 13. She authored an editorial accompanying the findings.

The klotho gene is named for a Greek Fate and daughter of Zeus, who was said to spin the thread of life. It’s so-called because recent studies have revealed the gene to be important in healthy aging, in lab mice and in people.

“It’s basically a longevity gene,” said Greicius.

What’s not clear, he said, is exactly how klotho counteracts some of the harm of APOE4. If researchers can figure that out, Greicius added, it could potentially lead to new treatments or ways to prevent Alzheimer’s.

We all inherit two copies of every gene — one from each parent. In the United States, about 25% of the population carries one copy of APOE4, and their Alzheimer’s risk is three to four times higher than average, according to the U.S. National Institute on Aging. A small percentage carries two copies, and their risk is higher still.

With klotho, Greicius explained, it’s best to inherit just one copy of the protective form. That seems to boost levels of klotho protein in the blood. What’s more, people who carry one copy tend to live longer and healthier, versus those who carry either two copies or none.

It turns out that the ideal klotho scenario is just as common as the APOE4 gene variant: About one-quarter of Americans carry one copy of the protective form of the gene, according to Greicius.

For the current study, his team combed through publicly available research databases, collecting data on more than 20,000 people age 60 and up — some with Alzheimer’s, some with milder impairment, and some with intact thinking and memory skills.

Among APOE4 carriers, those who also had one copy of the protective klotho variant were 30% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s by age 80. There was no evidence, however, that the klotho variant protected people who did not carry the APOE4 variant.

“That suggests to us there could be an interaction between the klotho variant and APOE4,” Greicius said.

It will be important to understand what is going on, Dubal said. At this point, she noted, there are some clues from animal research: In lab mice, higher klotho levels boost brain function.

“Maybe klotho, along with a healthy lifestyle, could be an effective treatment for APOE4 carriers in staving off Alzheimer’s,” Dubal speculated. “We need more work down this pathway.”

It does seem logical that raising klotho levels in the body could be beneficial, Greicius agreed. However, he stressed, no one knows if that’s actually the case.

The findings raise another question: Should APOE4 carriers be tested for their klotho genotype? Greicius said he thinks more research is needed first.

That point was echoed by Rebecca Edelmayer, director of scientific engagement for the Alzheimer’s Association.

“I don’t think this is something you can talk to your doctor about today — though it may be in future,” Edelmayer said. She noted that researchers are continuing to dig into the genetics of Alzheimer’s, and it may well turn out that other genes (and gene interactions) are key to the puzzle, too.

And then there are lifestyle measures: a healthy diet, exercise, controlling health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, and challenging the mind with mentally engaging activities. Research suggests that in general, those things can help protect the aging brain, Edelmayer said.

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SOURCES: Michael Greicius, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor, neurology, and director, Stanford Center for Memory Disorders, Stanford University School of Medicine, California; Dena Dubal, M.D., Ph.D., associate editor, JAMA Neurology, and associate professor, neurology, University of California, San Francisco; Rebecca Edelmayer, Ph.D., director, scientific engagement, Alzheimer’s Association, Chicago; April 13, 2020, JAMA Neurology, online

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Dirty Air Might Raise Your Odds for Dementia

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News Picture: Dirty Air Might Raise Your Odds for DementiaBy Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 31, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Smog drives up dementia risk, particularly for older men and women with heart disease, according to a new Swedish study.

For more than a decade, researchers tracked exposure to air pollution and dementia cases among nearly 3,000 Stockholm residents aged 60 and up.

Lead author Dr. Giulia Grande noted that exposure to dirty air has long been linked to an increased risk for lung and heart disease.

“More recently, several research groups have started to focus on the damages of air pollution on the brain — for example, its impact on cognitive functions in older adults,” she said.

The current research builds on that work. Participants were 74 years old on average and nearly two-thirds were women. All were free of dementia when the study began in 2001; they were tracked until 2013.

With strict air pollution rules in place, Stockholm has relatively good ambient air quality, said Grande, of the Aging Research Center at the Karolinska Institute and Stockholm University.

Her team pegged the city’s average annual pollution levels at about 2.5 microns of particulate matter or less — a level considered “low” by international standards.

Still, more than 12% of participants (364) developed dementia over the study period, the findings showed.

“And we found that people continuously exposed to higher levels of air pollution were at increased risk of dementia, as compared with those exposed to lower levels,” Grande said. That link was especially strong among participants who had a history of heart failure, ischemic heart disease or stroke.

Almost half of the pollution-related cases of dementia were connected to stroke, Grande said.

The findings dovetail with other research that has linked cardiovascular disease to a more rapid rate of cognitive (“thinking”) decline.

But why would air pollution increase dementia risk in the first place?

“Unfortunately, the biological mechanisms through which air pollution affects the brain are not completely understood,” Grande said. “But several pathways are possible.”

One possibility is that after inhaled pollutants penetrate the brain, they speed up accumulation of plaques that increase dementia risk, she said.

Poor air quality could also have an indirect effect, Grande added. Air pollution is an established risk to heart health and an “important trigger” for heart attacks and stroke. So, it could be the onset of heart disease that paves the way for development of dementia, she said.

That line of thinking made sense to Dr. Jesus Araujo, director of environmental cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He said the kind of vascular damage brought on by heart disease may be an essential pre-requisite for dementia.

Araujo added that extensive evidence indicates that air pollution can trigger inflammation and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), while also throwing the immune system out of whack (oxidative stress).

All of these factors “are important in the development of both cardiovascular disease and dementia,” according to Araujo, who was not involved with the new study.

Grande said the findings are one more reason to strengthen existing air-quality laws.

“By 2050, 68% of the world population is expected to live in urban areas, being continuously exposed to air pollution,” she pointed out. Her team projects that global dementia numbers will triple by 2050.

“Together with the worldwide aging of the population, this poses global challenges when it comes to preventive strategies for dementia,” Grande said. “So establishing and characterizing the relationship between air pollution and dementia has enormous impact.”

The report was published online March 30 in JAMA Neurology.

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QUESTION

One of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is __________________.
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References

SOURCES: Giulia Grande, M.D., Ph.D. candidate in geriatric epidemiology, Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institute and Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Jesus Araujo, Ph.D., M.D., assistant professor of medicine, director of environmental cardiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, and associate professor of environmental health sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); March 30, 2020, JAMA Neurology, online

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Could Sleep Apnea Put You at Risk for Alzheimer’s?

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News Picture: Could Sleep Apnea Put You at Risk for Alzheimer's?By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) — New research out of France suggests that untreated sleep apnea could raise your odds for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Evidence linking the two is based on a series of neurological assessments, brain scans and sleep analyses conducted between 2016 and 2018.

“This is further support of Alzheimer’s as a lifestyle chronic condition that results from a lifetime of experiences,” said George Perry, chairman of neurobiology at University of Texas at San Antonio, who reviewed the findings.

The new research — led by Gaël Chételat of the Cyceron Center in Caen, France — focused on 127 older people, whose average age was 69. None displayed any outward sign of dementia or thinking problems at the time of the study.

Chételat’s team first reviewed brain imagery to look for signs of beta-amyloid plaque in brain areas associated with Alzheimer’s. An abnormal build-up of this naturally occurring protein is known to be tied to dementia risk. The same brain areas were also analyzed for signs of neurological activity linked to Alzheimer’s.

Using portable home sleep trackers, the researchers found that roughly three-quarters of participants had breathing interruptions as they slept.

A well-known example of what the study called sleep-disordered breathing is sleep apnea, in which breathing repeatedly pauses for 10 seconds or more. Many patients use a device called a CPAP machine to prevent airway blockages that cause the start-and-stop breathing.

None of the study participants had been treated for a sleep disorder.

The research team found that untreated sleep-disordered breathing was associated with more of the early changes in brain structure and activity that boost Alzheimer’s risk.

Two North American researchers who reviewed the findings said the conclusions make sense.

“Sleep is thought of as a period of brain recharge,” said Perry. “And less-effective sleep will lead to reduced amyloid removal and oxygenation. Both of these changes are detrimental to brain metabolism.”

Dr. Tetyana Kendzerska, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa in Canada, said the pool of people for whom the findings might be concerning could be enormous. She said sleep-disordered breathing affects about one-quarter of adults.

Chételat and her team suggested that their findings “highlight the need to treat sleep disorders in the older population,” even in the absence of any obvious signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

But is it actually clear that a sleeping disorder can directly cause Alzheimer’s risk to go up? Or that by tackling and treating something like sleep apnea one might effectively lower long-term dementia risk?

Kendzerska said the jury is still out.

“We still don’t know yet given current evidence,” she said. “This is a possibility to be tested in future studies.”

The findings were reported online March 23 in JAMA Neurology.

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QUESTION

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References

SOURCES: George Perry, Ph.D., medical, scientific and memory screening advisory board member, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, and professor and chairman of neurobiology, University of Texas at San Antonio; Tetyana Kendzerska, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; March 23, 2020, JAMA Neurology, online

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