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Sat Feb 25, 2012, 09:27 AM

Obama's Alzheimer's plan focuses on treatment, care

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Obama administration's plan to fight Alzheimer's disease aims to harness the nation's expertise to find real treatments by 2025 and improve the care and treatment of the 5.1 million Americans already afflicted with the brain-wasting disease.

The draft plan, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday, makes treatment a top priority, but it also focuses on the burden the disease places on families and caregivers.

"Alzheimer's disease burdens an increasing number of our nation's elders and their families, and it is essential that we confront the challenge it poses to our public health," President Barack Obama said in a statement marking the plan's unveiling.

The White House earlier this month said it would divert an additional $50 million this year from HHS projects to Alzheimer's research, and seek an extra $80 million in new research funding in fiscal 2013.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/sns-rt-us-usa-alzheimers-plantre81l28a-20120222,0,3684961.story

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Response to greatauntoftriplets (Original post)

Sat Feb 25, 2012, 09:36 AM

1. One wonders what the incidence of this condition was 1, 2, 3 generations ago...

And whether or not there will ever be a way of knowing.

I can easily imagine that people suffering 100 years ago would just be put in a room and never discussed, or worse.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 25, 2012, 09:39 AM

2. The founder of my company died from complications of Alzheimer's 3 1/2 years ago.

He was one of those men who thrived on coming into the office every day for as long as he could. It was sad to see him deteriorate, but we were always happy to see him, even if he didn't always recognize us -- he also had macular degeneration, so his vision was bad.

I still miss the old man. He had a wicked sense of humor.

As to the incidence of it in generations past, I think it was just diagnosed as dementia.

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Response to greatauntoftriplets (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 25, 2012, 10:42 AM

4. it was assumed to be a natural part of old age.

and not that many people made it to that kind of old age.

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Response to mopinko (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 25, 2012, 11:19 AM

5. Also, a lot of people didn't live long enough to have dementia or what is now called Alzheimer's

Scary thought, but I have outlived three of my grandparents -- one grandfather died in his 30s and one grandmother in her 40s.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 26, 2012, 10:37 AM

10. My grandmother died in 1970 and she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease

Unlike today when the disease is well known, none of us had ever heard of it (I was a teenager). God, what a nightmare this disease is -- I hope there's an equally significant amount devoted to research. Here's a little history:

Since its discovery more than 100 years ago, there have been many scientific breakthroughs in AD research. In the 1960s, scientists discovered a link between cognitive decline and the number of plaques and tangles in the brain. The medical community then formally recognized Alzheimer’s as a disease and not a normal part of aging. In the 1970s, scientists made great strides in understanding the human body as a whole, and AD emerged as a significant area of research interest. This increased attention led in the 1990s to important discoveries and a better understanding of complex nerve cells in the brains of AD patients. More research was done on AD susceptibility genes, and several drugs were approved to treat the cognitive symptoms of the disease.



Oh, and Mr. President, in addition to the neuromodulating effects of cannabis (it's been shown, among other things, to inhibit the formation of amyloid plaques, it holds more promise in terms of treating agitation and other behaviors than many currently used drugs I've seen working, or not really working. (I used to work with Alzheimer's patients & their families, among other groups I worked with.)

In addition to potentially modifying the progression of AD, clinical trials also indicate that cannabinoid therapy can reduce agitation and stimulate weight gain in patients with the disease. Most recently, investigators at Berlin Germany's Charite Universitatmedizin, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, reported that the daily administration of 2.5 mg of synthetic THC over a two-week period reduced nocturnal motor activity and agitation in AD patients in an open-label pilot study.

Clinical data presented at the 2003 annual meeting of the International Psychogeriatric Association previously reported that the oral administration of up to 10 mg of synthetic THC reduced agitation and stimulated weight gain in late-stage Alzheimer's patients in an open-label clinical trial. Improved weight gain and a decrease in negative feelings among AD patients administered cannabinoids were previously reported by investigators in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in 1997.



More:
Cannabinoid May Halt Alzheimer's Progression, Study Says
Israeli Research Shows Cannabidiol May Slow Alzheimer's Disease
Cannabis Agonist Slows Alzheimer's Progression, Study Says

And there's so much more. I can tell you, based on the research I've read, I'd be going out and getting my grandmother illegal pot to delay progression of her disease and help in her treatment. I'd first have to find someone who is known to sell safe pot that isn't laced with dangerous additives. You really want to learn about the most effective treatments? Add this to protocols to ascertain its effectiveness and approve it for use if it proves as effective as early research is indicating.

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Response to tpsbmam (Reply #10)

Sun Feb 26, 2012, 10:51 AM

11. Thank you for this info and for your work in the field.

My original question was out of curiosity as to whether or not the condition is a modern phenomenon or a timeless one dating back centuries.

But still good to know more about it.

My father suffers from dementia, I'm told that Alzheimer's can't be determined as the actual condition until post-mortem examination, but that may not be true.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 04:01 AM

13. I'm sure you've already thought of this, but just in case...

If your dad is on any kind of medication(s), have you talked to your pharmacist about whether cognitive deficits could be a side effect? Also, vitamin B12 deficiency might be something to look into.

Overprescribing of medication or combinations of medications is a pretty common cause of confusion, memory problems, etc--maybe not in your dad's case, but if this could apply to him or to anybody reading this, it seemed worth a mention.

I'm really sorry about your dad. It must be tough on him and tough on you, too.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 12:28 PM

14. So sorry to hear about your dad

I know what it's like having dementia in those you love -- bucket of suck!

While it's true that Alzheimer's can't 100% definitively be diagnosed until one can dissect the brain, it's not true that it can't be diagnosed for treatment purposes.

Alzheimer's can be qualitatively differentiated from other types of dementia (e.g., multi-infarct dementia) through history, behavior and cognitive patterns ascertained through testing. And brain scans can accurately differentiate between types of dementia. As a matter of fact, MRI scan studies have accurately predicted which people with early cognitive problems will go on to develop Alzheimer's based on changes in certain brain areas. There are some specific patterns seen in Alzheimer's and MRI scans can pick up these changes in the hippocampus and other structures in the medial temporal lobe, for example -- these are very predictive of Alzheimer's.

Accurate diagnoses of Alzheimer's are made all the time -- it helps with treatment & planning. The worst case I was ever involved in was a young woman who, through testing (including neuropsychological testing), we diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's -- she had 3 wonderful sons who were young men at the time. Early onset is highly genetic. They broke my heart. But knowing that dementia is present can be enough for that treatment and planning since there's so much overlap.

My heart goes out to you with your dad. Dementia is about the whole family, not just the patient. I hope the two of you have good support around you!



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Response to greatauntoftriplets (Original post)

Sat Feb 25, 2012, 10:06 AM

3. People need to be very frightened - we joke now...

We took my mother to be checked and the doctor said she had "mild" Alzheimer's.
This was at a point when we were trying to decide whether it was safe for her to live alone.
This shows the urgency the medical profession has for this desease.

At work we all would joke about having senior moments when we forgot what we were
trying to say - these people are in their late 40's and early 50's

I asked my optometrist if he had a test to detect B-amyloids in the eye and he said it was still experimental. So, my mother-in-law was going to get cataracts removed and I had her ask - they said the same thing - still experimental.

this month's Reader's Digest has a Dr. saying not to worry to a 50 year old about forgetting where they parked the car - He said "It's normal".

We need to protest this thinking by our medical profession and get them moving on preventitive care instead of accepting the fact that people start to forget in their 40's. This is unacceptable!

Picture yourself sitting in a chair and just realizing that you can't figure out why your in a strange room and you find out you've been living with your daughter's family for the past 6 months before you slip back into a catatonic stupor. This is scarey stuff, folks. We need to impress upon people what an epidemic we are facing here.

edit for spelling

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Response to greatauntoftriplets (Original post)

Sat Feb 25, 2012, 12:21 PM

6. i think people died sooner back then.

we are too good at keeping people alive.

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Response to greatauntoftriplets (Original post)

Sat Feb 25, 2012, 04:48 PM

7. Q. What does the Republican Alzheimer's plan focus on?

A. A speedy death.

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Response to greatauntoftriplets (Original post)

Sat Feb 25, 2012, 06:31 PM

8. A cure would be wonderful, but what society REALLY needs right now is decent assisted living

places that don't cost the patients and their families their whole life's earnings. Look how long it's taking for a cure for diabetes (either kind), breast cancer, or any other chronic disease that costs big $$.

I have to wonder whether cures are not in the offing because there is too much money being made on treatment, fundraising, etc. It's horrible to contemplate, but our society doesn't run toward "cures" for anything -- it gravitates toward what "solution" will squeeze the most money out of the opportunity before some goody two-shoes actually finds a cure just out of the goodness of his heart.

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Response to greatauntoftriplets (Original post)

Sun Feb 26, 2012, 03:05 AM

9. K&R

Nice post greatauntof triplets. My friend told me to see this, k and r if I like. I like so I did.

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Response to greatauntoftriplets (Original post)

Sun Feb 26, 2012, 08:35 PM

12. I lost my mother and my grandmother to Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's is a despicable disease. It robs people of their mind, their will, and their personality. I spent several years helping my grandmother, and before she died my mom was diagnosed with it. My dad and I (admitted, more him than me, but it was definitely a team effort) dealt with taking care of loved ones stricken with Alzheimer's non-stop for more than a decade. I know first hand what kind of toll it takes on loved ones and caregivers.

Thank you, Mr. President. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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