Surge in new Alzheimer’s drugs leads to better treatment for Georgians

More than 6.7 million U.S. residents aged 65 and older were living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2023, including at least 150,000 Georgians, according to the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association.

Georgia has one of the highest stroke rates in the United States. Given the link between dementia and stroke, which can be caused by high blood pressure and poor diet, dementia researchers say eating better and getting more exercise could be as critical as new treatments in Georgia. reduce cases of dementia and perhaps even Alzheimer’s.

There is no single test to determine whether a person is living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Doctors use a battery of diagnostic tools combined with medical history to make an accurate diagnosis. These tests include a physical examination, biomarker testing (through spinal imaging and analysis), neurological examination, and cognitive testing.

The Alzheimer’s Association said early and accurate diagnosis can lead to better treatment, more time to plan for changing family dynamics and, ultimately, savings for families and taxpayers.

Researchers in the field are optimistic that advances in early detection will give individuals more time to plan for the future.

Holland noted, “In the past, Alzheimer’s disease could only be diagnosed by autopsy after death. In the next three years, we will take a blood test. This, combined with MRIs and PET scans, would allow for earlier diagnoses. And that means people will have a chance to get treatment sooner.

Future tests could even detect Alzheimer’s disease through scans of saliva, skin and retina, Holland said.

Biological changes occur in the brain up to 20 years before symptoms appear. But several emerging blood tests that can indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s markers years before symptoms appear could trivialize early diagnoses, Holland said.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are terms often used interchangeably, but dementia refers to any condition that causes a person’s thinking skills to deteriorate. This includes Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia, as well as vascular dementia and stroke, among other health conditions.

Currently, when doctors try to determine if a patient has Alzheimer’s disease, they use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to rule out other symptoms that may be causing dementia. Then they order positron emission tomography (PET) scans of biomarkers that may indicate Alzheimer’s disease. FDA-approved PET brain scanners can measure amyloid (which looks like plaque) and tau (which looks like tangles).

Amyloid and tau are sometimes called “the trigger and the bullet in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.” Behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease correlate with the buildup of plaques and tangles. They are a direct result of damage and destruction of brain synapses that support memory and cognition, according to the University of Virginia.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. However, not everyone with cognitive decline has dementia, and some causes of cognitive decline are actually reversible. Dementia is a set of symptoms linked to cognitive decline: cognitive symptoms, behavioral symptoms and psychological symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of dementia characterized by progressive memory loss and cognitive decline.

Up to 40% of dementia cases could be prevented or delayed by targeting modifiable risk factors, Holland said. The CDC has identified eight risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease that, in most cases, people can counteract by making diet and lifestyle changes: reducing or treating high blood pressure, obesity , diabetes, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption; fighting hearing loss and depression; and increasing physical activity.

Among the millions of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, the burden falls disproportionately on black Americans, who are twice as likely as white Americans to have dementia or Alzheimer’s, the organization said.

Facts about Alzheimer’s disease

What is my risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease?

The risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease at age 45 is 1 in 5 for women and 1 in 10 for men. Older Black Americans are twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia as white people. Older Hispanic Americans are 1.5 times more likely to suffer from it than whites.

Do I have Alzheimer’s disease?

You can’t really detect Alzheimer’s disease yourself because many illnesses involve memory loss, but people can ask their doctor for a three-part battery of tests to help make a diagnosis: Cognitive and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and PET (positron emission tomography) scans are most often used.

Other emerging biomarkers that doctors can use include blood tests, examining skin and saliva for changes, and retinal imaging of the eye.

Where to get help:

The Alzheimer’s Association has a toll-free helpline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Master’s level specialists and clinicians can offer confidential support and information to people with dementia, their caregivers and to their loved ones. The telephone number is (800) 272-3900.

How to reduce your risk:

Daily actions can make a difference in brain health, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. To reduce your risk of cognitive decline and possibly Alzheimer’s disease and dementia: Stay in school; maintain a healthy weight; stop smoking; challenge your mind; regular exercise; control high blood pressure and diabetes; wear a helmet when necessary to avoid head injuries.

News Source :
Gn Health

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