Daily Aspirin Won’t Stop Dementia, Study Finds

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News Picture: Daily Aspirin Won't Stop Dementia, Study FindsBy Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Millions of Americans pop a low-dose aspirin each day to help ward off heart issues, but a new study finds that protection may not extend to dementia.

Although the anti-inflammatory effects of aspirin have been touted as protection against thinking and memory (or “cognitive”) problems from Alzheimer’s and other dementias, a large, randomized trial suggests aspirin won’t slow mental decline.

“The findings are very relevant to the care of older people and indicate that aspirin should not be prescribed solely on the basis of potential cognitive benefits,” said lead researcher Joanne Ryan, of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

“Our study provides strong evidence that low-dose aspirin will not reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” she added.

Because aspirin benefits people with heart disease, it’s been thought — and other studies have suggested — that it might also lower dementia risk by lowering the risk of inflammation and small clots or by preventing narrowing of blood vessels in the brain.

“Unfortunately, our large study provides strong evidence that this is not the case,” Ryan said.

Because dementia is a major public health issue, intense international effort is focused on identifying treatments that could prevent or at least help delay problems with thinking and memory, she said.

As part of that effort, her team collected data on more than 19,000 seniors who didn’t have dementia or heart disease. Most were 70 or older. All took thinking and memory tests at the outset and during nearly five years of follow-up.

Half were given low-dose aspirin and the rest received an inactive placebo. Over the study period, 575 participants developed dementia.

No difference in the risk for mild cognitive impairment, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease was found between people who took aspirin and those who did not, Ryan said. Nor was there any difference between the two groups in rate of mental decline.

“These findings were consistent across men and women, different ethnic groups, and regardless of the health status of the individual when they first entered the study,” Ryan said.

The findings were published online March 25 in the journal Neurology.

Dr. David Knopman, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., co-authored an editorial that accompanied the study.

Although the findings were not what researchers hoped, they can help guide future tests of other drugs to prevent dementia, Knopman said.

“Sometimes there is an absence of evidence on these sorts of questions, meaning that there has not been a definitive study, but in this instance, there is evidence of absence,” he said. “The trial definitively showed no value in aspirin for preventing dementia, unfortunately.”

So, the bottom line is: “No, don’t take aspirin in hopes of preventing dementia,” Knopman said.

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QUESTION

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

References

SOURCES: Joanne Ryan, Ph.D., senior research fellow, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; David Knopman, M.D., neurologist, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; March 25, 2020, Neurology, online

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Study Ties Brain Inflammation to Several Types of Dementia

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News Picture: Study Ties Brain Inflammation to Several Types of Dementia

WEDNESDAY, March 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Brain inflammation may be more of a factor in dementia than previously believed, a new British study suggests.

“We predicted the link between inflammation in the brain and the buildup of damaging proteins, but even we were surprised by how tightly these two problems mapped on to each other,” said co-author Thomas Cope of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge.

The findings could lead to new treatments for several types of dementia, his team said.

Brain inflammation has been linked to depression, psychosis, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.

In this study, the researchers investigated whether brain inflammation is also associated with other types of dementia.

They used brain scans to assess 31 patients with three types of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). FTD is a family of conditions caused by the buildup of abnormal “junk” proteins in the brain.

In all three types of FTD, the more inflammation there was in each part of the brain, the greater the buildup of harmful junk proteins, the study found.

To confirm that link, researchers analyzed 12 brains donated after death.

“There may be a vicious circle where cell damage triggers inflammation, which in turn leads to further cell damage,” study co-author Richard Bevan Jones said in a university news release.

James Rowe, a professor of neurosciences at the Cambridge Center for Frontotemporal Dementia who was also on the research team, described the findings as important.

“The illnesses are in other ways very different from each other, but we have found a role for inflammation in all of them,” he said in the release.

“This, together with the fact that it is known to play a role in Alzheimer’s, suggests that inflammation is part of many other neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. This offers hope that immune-based treatments might help slow or prevent these conditions,” Rowe added.

The study was published March 17 in the journal Brain.

— Robert Preidt

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Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Aging Brains
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References

SOURCE: University of Cambridge, news release, March 16, 2020

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Heart Drug Combos Might Also Lower Your Dementia Risk: Study

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News Picture: Heart Drug Combos Might Also Lower Your Dementia Risk: Study

FRIDAY, March 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Certain combinations of cholesterol and blood pressure drugs may do more than help the heart — they might also lower a person’s risk of dementia, a new study finds.

The drugs in question include two common types of blood pressure medications — ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) — as well as cholesterol-lowering statins.

It’s long been known that keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control is important for a healthy heart. But “this study tells us there might be certain combinations of drugs that have additional benefits for Alzheimer’s and other dementias beyond the management of those targeted conditions,” study co-author Douglas Barthold said in a University of Southern California news release.

Barthold is a research assistant professor in the department of pharmacy at the University of Washington in Seattle.

In the study, a team led by USC researcher Julie Zissimopoulos tracked 2007-2014 data from nearly 700,000 Medicare beneficiaries. The participants were ages 67 and older, and had used both a high blood pressure drug and a cholesterol-lowering statin drug for the two previous years. None had been diagnosed with dementia, and they had never taken any Alzheimer’s disease-specific medications.

The use of the statins pravastatin and rosuvastatin, combined with ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) for high blood pressure, was associated with a reduced risk for dementia, compared to other combinations of drugs.

One combination — pravastatin or rosuvastatin in combination with ARBs — was especially good at lowering the risk, with men benefiting even more than women.

For example, using a combination of ARBs and pravastatin was associated with a 21% lower risk of dementia diagnosis over the seven years of the study, compared to other combinations of drugs, according to the study.

Dementia affects about 7 million Americans and that number is expected to increase to 12 million over the next two decades.

“We don’t currently have drugs that are proven to treat dementia, but even small delays in onset can dramatically reduce the burden on patients, caregivers, and the health system as a whole,” Zissimopoulos said in the release. She directs the Aging and Cognition program at USC’s Center for Health Policy and Economics. “Our research found dementia risk may be reduced with specific combinations of drug treatments for vascular health.”

If these findings are replicated in future research, they might lead to specific combinations of statins and high blood pressure drugs being recommended to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, the researchers said.

Two experts in brain and heart health said the new findings make sense, given links between the two organs.

“Yet another study that says heart health equals brain health,” said Dr. Gayatri Devi, a neurologist and psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

She said that besides using meds to better your heart health, people interested in keeping their brain healthy should consider “eating a Mediterranean diet, doing aerobic exercise 30-45 minutes three to four days a week, maintaining healthy sleep habits and having community involvement.”


QUESTION

In the U.S., 1 in every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease.
See Answer

Dr. Guy Mintz directs cardiovascular health at the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. Reading over the findings, he said that “this choice of medications make sense because not only do ARBs reduce blood pressure, but they have an anti-inflammatory effect,” as do statins — and inflammation negatively affects blood vessel health in the brain.

“As we move into an era of precision medicine, the idea of targeted combination therapies for hypertension and cholesterol in patients over 67 years of age — translating to better vascular health in the brain and leading to a reduction of brain dysfunction — is exciting and warrants further research,” Mintz said.

The study was published recently in the journal PLOS One.

— Robert Preidt

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SOURCES: Guy Mintz, M.D., director, cardiovascular health and lipidology, Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.; Gayatri Devi,M.D., neurologist and psychiatrist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; University of Southern California, news release, March 10, 2020

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When Is Surgery Not Safe for Seniors?

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News Picture: When Is Surgery Not Safe for Seniors?

THURSDAY, March 12, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Poor physical function, dementia and depression all raise seniors’ risk of death after a major operation and should be factored into their pre-surgery assessments, researchers say.

In a new study, investigators analyzed data on more than 1,300 U.S. patients, aged 66 and older, who had one of three types of major surgery (abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, coronary artery bypass graft or colectomy) between 1992 and 2014.

Before their surgery, at least 90% of the patients were independent or did not need help with activities of daily living or instrumental activities of daily living, 6% had dementia, 23% had thinking (“cognitive”) impairment without dementia, and 25% had depression.

Activities of daily living include bathing, dressing, eating, using the bathroom, getting in and out of bed, and walking across the room. Instrumental activities of daily living include preparing meals, handling finances, using the phone, shopping and taking medication.

Overall, 17% of the patients died within a year after their surgery, the findings showed.

Rates of death were 29% among those who needed support for at least two activities of daily living versus 13% among those who were independent.

The risk of death rose as the number of risk factors increased: 10% for no factors, 16% for one factor and nearly 28% for two factors, according to the study published March 11 in JAMA Surgery.

These findings show the need for research into how to incorporate these risk factors into pre-surgery assessments of seniors, said study lead author Dr. Victoria Tang. She is an assistant professor of geriatrics and of hospital medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and the affiliated San Francisco VA Health Care System.

“Improving our understanding of functional, cognitive and psychological risk factors in this population, particularly in predicting risk beyond typical medical factors, is essential to providing patient-centered care,” Tang concluded in a university news release.

— Robert Preidt

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


QUESTION

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

References

SOURCE: University of California, San Francisco, news release, March 11, 2020

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U.S. Primary Care Docs Unprepared for Surge in Alzheimer’s Cases

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News Picture: U.S. Primary Care Docs Unprepared for Surge in Alzheimer's CasesBy Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 11, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Many U.S. primary care doctors worry they aren’t ready to care for the growing ranks of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease, a new report suggests.

In a Alzheimer’s Association survey, half of primary care doctors said the U.S. medical profession is unprepared for the coming surge in Alzheimer’s cases.

Right now, it’s estimated that more than 5 million Americans age 65 and older have the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. That figure is expected to almost triple by 2050.

And the doctors who are worried about the future have good reason, according to Dr. Sharon Brangman, inaugural chair of geriatrics at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.

In fact, she said, the future is already here — with too few doctors able to care for dementia patients and direct their families to resources for additional help.

“It’s not enough to just prescribe medication,” Brangman said. “The day-to-day care of people with dementia is really hard. And a lot of doctors aren’t comfortable with that.”

Brangman, a past president of the American Geriatrics Society, was not involved in the new report.

The survey findings are part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s latest Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, released March 11. The annual publication gives an overview of the state of the disease in the United States.

The association decided to include a survey this time around to get physicians’ perspective, according to chief program officer Joanne Pike.

“Primary care physicians are on the front lines for treating any medical condition, not dementia,” Pike said. But their role in dementia care, she added, will become increasingly critical as the number of Americans with the brain disease swells to possibly 15 million over the next 30 years.

Based on the survey, primary care doctors are already feeling the pressure. “The majority said they are getting questions about dementia at least every few days,” Pike said. “And their patients expect them to be able to answer.”

Yet 27% of doctors said they are “never” or only “sometimes” able to do that.

Doctors do want to stay up-to-date and give patients the information they need, the survey found. But education and training opportunities can be hard to come by: Fewer than half of the doctors surveyed said they’d pursued continuing education on dementia care — often citing too few options and a lack of time.

Younger doctors were more likely than their older peers to have had some education and training in dementia care during medical school and residency. Still, two-thirds of doctors who’d had such education described it as “too little.”

Primary care doctors did commonly refer dementia patients to specialists, such as neurologists and geriatricians. But, the report shows, the United States has far too few specialists to manage the demand.

Right now, for example, there are just over 5,200 geriatricians nationwide. That number would have to balloon to over 46,000 by 2050, just to meet the needs of 30% of Americans age 65 and up.

Primary care doctors — as well as other providers such as nurses, aides and social workers — will necessarily play an ever-increasing role in dementia care, according to Pike and Brangman.

“Medical school curriculums need to devote more time to dementia, and aging in general,” Brangman said.

As for doctors already in practice, education needs to be more accessible, Pike said. The Alzheimer’s Association is looking at innovative ways, she noted, including “tele-mentoring” programs that would allow doctors to learn remotely from dementia experts.

But dementia care goes beyond technical knowledge. Family caregivers are ultimately on the front lines, Brangman pointed out, and they need help managing day-to-day challenges.

Social workers are a vital part of that, she said. But that kind of support is not available in all health care systems.

Still, other local resources exist, and doctors should at least be able to direct families to them, Brangman said. Those include caregiver support groups, regional agencies on aging, or local chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association or American Geriatrics Society.

Pike said the Alzheimer’s Association also has a 24-hour helpline and online resources for family caregivers.

“People with dementia need constant supervision,” Brangman said. And their primary caregiver — typically an elderly spouse — may have their own health issues to manage, along with everything else.

“We shouldn’t make it difficult for them to find help,” Brangman said.

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


QUESTION

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

References

SOURCES: Joanne Pike, Dr.P.H., chief program officer, Alzheimer’s Association, Chicago; Sharon Brangman, M.D., inaugural chair, Department of Geriatrics, and director, Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease, Central New York Region, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, N.Y., and past president, American Geriatrics Society, New York City; Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, March 11, 2020

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Even a Little Activity Keeps Aging Brains From Shrinking, Study Shows

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News Picture: Even a Little Activity Keeps Aging Brains From Shrinking, Study ShowsBy Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 5, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Take a walk, weed your garden, go for a swim or dance — it could keep your brain from shrinking as you age, a new study suggests.

Being physically active may keep your brain four years younger than the rest of you, which might help prevent or slow the progression of dementias like Alzheimer’s disease, researchers say.

“We recently published a paper using information of both current and past physical activity and found they both are associated with lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease,” said lead researcher Dr. Yian Gu, an assistant professor of neurological sciences at Columbia University in New York City. “The current study is a step further to show that physical activity is also protective against brain volume loss.”

Gu cautioned, however, that the new study doesn’t prove that exercise preserves brain size, only that the two appear to be linked.

For the study, Gu and her colleagues used MRI scans to collect data on the brain size of more than 1,550 people, average age 75.

None had dementia, but nearly 300 had mildly impaired thinking and 28% had the APOE gene, which appears to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Participants reported varying levels of physical activity. Researchers found that those who were the most active had bigger brains than those who were inactive.

The most active logged either seven hours of low-intensity physical activity, four hours of moderate activity or two hours of high-intensity physical activity a week.

After taking into account age, sex, education, race/ethnicity and APOE gene status, the researchers found that the average brain size of the most active was 883 cubic centimeters, compared to 871 for those who were inactive.

That difference of 12 cubic centimeters, or 1.4%, is equivalent to nearly four years of brain aging, Gu and her colleagues said.

A limitation of the study is that it relied on participants’ ability to remember how much and how often they were active. Researchers said their reports could be inaccurate, skewing the results.

Nevertheless, another expert stressed that keeping active could only add benefits for seniors.

“It’s plausible, and not unique to this study, that physical exercise is good for your brain,” said Dr. Marc Gordon, chief of neurology at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., who reviewed the findings.

Although it’s not clear how physical activity benefits the brain, Gordon suspects that it might come from keeping blood vessels healthy and lowering blood pressure and diabetes risk. “There are a lot of factors that could play a role,” he said.

“I encourage my patients to be physically active,” Gordon added. “Keep socially active and keep mentally active.”

The findings are scheduled to be presented at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, April 25 to May 1, in Toronto. Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


QUESTION

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

References

SOURCES: Yian Gu, M.D., Ph.D., M.S., assistant professor, neurological sciences, Columbia University, New York City; Marc Gordon, M.D., chief, neurology, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, N.Y.; April 25-May 1, 2020 presentation, American Academy of Neurology meeting, Toronto

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Maria Shriver Sounds the Alarm on Women and Alzheimer’s

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News Picture: Maria Shriver Sounds the Alarm on Women and Alzheimer'sBy Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Why are two out of three people struck by Alzheimer’s disease women?

That’s the question that drove journalist and author Maria Shriver to start the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM). The group is dedicated to raising awareness that women face a greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and aims to fund women-based research for Alzheimer’s disease.

“Women’s research is way behind men’s research, and the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement sits there pushing. Because we can’t close the knowledge gap unless we do the research. And we can’t help women on the front lines of this disease without that research,” Shriver said at a WAM luncheon this week honoring new research grant recipients.

Shriver, 64, has spoken openly about her father Sargent Shriver’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease, and how it destroyed her “father’s beautiful brain.” But she soon noticed that when people shared their stories of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease, the stories were disproportionately about women.

When Shriver pressed experts on why the brain disease seemed to affect so many more women, she was told it was because women live longer.

Not one to let a potentially important story go, Shriver partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association to look closer at this connection. The result was “The Shriver Report,” which confirmed that women were, in fact, being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease far more often than men. And it wasn’t just a factor of women living longer.

But no one knows exactly why Alzheimer’s disease ravages so many more female minds.

And many women and their families still don’t realize the seriousness of the risk. A woman in her 60s faces an estimated 1 in 6 lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. For breast cancer, the risk is 1 in 11, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Therefore, research is essential, WAM says.

Some of the early research projects receiving grants from WAM include:

  • The gut microbiome’s role in Alzheimer’s. Harvard researcher Laura Cox is exploring how the natural bacteria in the digestive system (gut microbiome) might affect the development of Alzheimer’s, and whether adding more beneficial microbes could be a way to treat Alzheimer’s disease in women.
  • Sex-based genetic analysis. Massachusetts General Hospital researchers Rudy Tanzi and Dmitry Prokopenko are mapping genetic markers based on gender and looking for genetic markers for Alzheimer’s disease on the female genome.
  • Sudden hormonal shifts and Alzheimer’s disease. Lisa Mosconi, from Weill Cornell Medicine, is looking at how a rapid shift in estrogen levels might impact a woman’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Women in the study are being treated for other conditions, but a side effect of those treatments is early menopause. Mosconi will compare the brains of women before and after these treatments to see how a sudden loss of estrogen affects the brain.
  • Sex-based brain differences. Using advanced imaging techniques, neuropsychologist Jessica Caldwell, from the Cleveland Clinic, is studying gender-based differences in the brain in people with memory issues and those without to gain a better understanding of what role gender plays in the brain.
  • Alzheimer’s prevention and sex differences. Dr. Richard Isaacson, from Weill Cornell and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, has already published research based on a WAM grant that found women and men with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease can improve their memory and thinking skills on their own with changes in lifestyle. The current grant is to help build a consortium to see if these risk reduction techniques change based on gender, and if there is a way to optimize prevention methods by gender.
  • Sex-based differences in severity of disease. Sarah Banks and Erin Sundermann, from the University of California, San Diego, are studying factors that may contribute to the more severe brain changes that seem to occur in women with Alzheimer’s compared to men. In particular, they will be looking at whether changes in sleep, diet and exercise are linked to greater inflammation in women with Alzheimer’s disease.

Despite the significant challenges that Alzheimer’s disease presents, Shriver said she remains hopeful, encouraged by the progress that has been made since her father was diagnosed with the disease in 2003.

“While we don’t have a cure, we do know so much more today about our brain health and what we can do to slow, if not prevent, Alzheimer’s disease in the future,” Shriver said.

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QUESTION

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

References

SOURCES: Maria Shriver, founder, Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement; March 3, 2020, Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Luncheon, New York City

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Losing a Spouse Could Speed Brain’s Decline

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News Picture: Losing a Spouse Could Speed Brain's DeclineBy Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Losing a spouse can be a heartbreaker, and new research suggests it’s also tough on the brain.

The study found that when a husband or wife dies, the surviving mate’s mental acuity could start to decline.

In fact, people who are widowed and have high levels of beta-amyloid plaque, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, appear to experience cognitive decline three times faster than similar people who have not lost a spouse, the researchers added.

“The associations of widowhood and amyloid were compounded, not simply additive, indicating that widowhood is a specific risk factor for cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s disease,” explained lead researcher Dr. Nancy Donovan, chief of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Rebecca Edelmayer, director of scientific engagement at Alzheimer’s Association, reviewed the findings and said this small study can’t prove that being widowed causes cognitive decline, but it may well be a factor.

Donovan said the specific mechanisms by which widowhood increases the risk of cognitive decline isn’t known.

“Some studies suggest that having close relationships, such as a close sibling or adult child, helps to protect against cognitive decline among widows, though we didn’t find this in our study,” Donovan said.

It is likely that being married has beneficial effects by providing daily emotional support, stimulating companionship, better health behaviors and larger social networks, she said.

For people who lose a spouse, Donovan recommends “what we know to be beneficial overall for older adults: exercise, social engagement, cognitively stimulating activities, a healthy diet, manage stress levels and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.”

Dr. Marzena Gieniusz, a geriatrician and internist at Northwell Health in Manhasset, N.Y., said she often sees cognitive decline in surviving spouses in her practice.

“I think being married is likely a protective factor, which is lost when the spouse passes away,” she said.

It’s possible that the beginnings of thinking declines were already present in the surviving spouse, but hidden, said Gieniusz, who wasn’t involved with the study.

“Passing of a spouse likely leads to an unmasking of mild cognitive impairment, which went previously unnoticed,” she said.

Having a spouse seems to be an extra layer of support throughout life in general, “which makes sense,” Gieniusz said. “Two people tackling life together is easier than one doing it alone and also likely functions to help slow cognitive decline.”

Also, people become more isolated when a spouse passes away. “I’m sure that contributes to cognitive decline,” Gieniusz said.

For the study, Donovan and her colleagues collected data on nearly 260 seniors who took part in the Harvard Aging Brain Study. All the participants had their levels of brain beta-amyloid determined at the start of the study.

The researchers monitored the participants’ cognitive performance each year for four years.

They found that cognitive performance declined among those who were widowed, while no difference was seen among those who were married or single.

Also, cognitive decline among people with the highest beta-amyloid levels was three times faster among those widowed as those married. This finding remained significant after the researchers took age, sex, socioeconomic status and depression into account.

The report was published online Feb. 26 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

This study highlights one factor that can affect cognitive decline, Edelmayer said.

“It is important that we continue to study Alzheimer’s disease and all dementia, from all angles, because that’s the only way that we will be able to provide the right type of care and support structures that are going to be necessary for these populations. And it’s also going to be important for us to truly understand the types of risk factors that are driving the disease process,” Edelmayer said.

MedicalNews
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QUESTION

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

References

SOURCES: Nancy Donovan, M.D.,chief, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston; Rebecca Edelmayer, Ph.D., director, scientific engagement, Alzheimer’s Association; Marzena Gieniusz, M.D., geriatrician and internist, Northwell Health, Manhasset, N.Y.; Feb. 26, 2020, JAMA Network Open, online

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Alzheimer’s Gene Mapping Project Proposed in New York State

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FRIDAY, Feb. 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — A proposed project to map the genes of 1 million people in New York living with or at-risk for Alzheimer’s disease was announced Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

He said the five years of data collected by the Curing Alzheimer’s Health Consortium initiative at the State University of New York would help researchers working to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, the Associated Press reported.

The state will seek proposals for private providers to work with SUNY, other hospitals and non-profit higher education research institutions on the project, Cuomo said.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than 5 million people in the United States. Current drugs only temporarily reduce symptoms, the AP reported.

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QUESTION

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

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Two Experimental Drugs Disappoint With Inherited Alzheimer’s

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News Picture: Two Experimental Drugs Disappoint With Inherited Alzheimer's

MONDAY, Feb. 10, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Two experimental drugs do not appear to slow memory loss or mental decline in patients in the early stages of a rare, inherited form of Alzheimer’s disease, according to initial results from a clinical trial.

The international phase 2 and 3 clinical trial separately evaluated the two drugs — solanezumab (Eli Lilly and Co.), and gantenerumab (Roche and its U.S. affiliate, Genentech) — in nearly 200 people with dominantly inherited Alzheimer’s disease, also called autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease.

People with this form of Alzheimer’s suffer declines in memory and thinking skills starting in their 50s, 40s or even 30s.

The patients were followed for up to seven years, with an average of five years. Initial analysis suggests that neither drug achieved the primary outcome of the study, which was a slowing of mental decline as measured by thinking and memory tests.

“Although the drugs we evaluated were not successful, the trial will move us forward in understanding Alzheimer’s,” study director Dr. Randall Bateman, a professor of neurology at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a university news release.

The study can help guide future research into the disease, including the more common form that typically strikes after age 65, according to Bateman.

Alzheimer’s-related brain changes that occur as the disease progresses are much the same in patients with the inherited, younger-onset and the late-onset forms of the disease, he explained.

Both forms have “silent” phases that begin up to two decades before symptoms appear. The disease process starts with the accumulation of plaques of the protein amyloid beta in the brain. The two drugs in the study were designed to target the protein.

A more detailed analysis of the trial’s data will be presented for the first time April 2-5 at the Advances in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Therapies annual meeting, in Vienna, Austria. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

— Robert Preidt

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SLIDESHOW

Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Aging Brains
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References

SOURCE: Washington University in St. Louis, news release, Feb. 9, 2020

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