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JeffBehar
Posted March 18, 2009 by JeffBehar

People who have lost brain cells in the hippocampus area of the brain arewoman with alzheimers more likely to develop dementia, according to a study published in the March 17, 2009, print issue of NeurologyҮ, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study involved 64 people with Alzheimer's disease, 44 people with mild cognitive impairment, which is the stage of memory problems that precedes Alzheimer's disease, and 34 people with no memory or thinking
problems.

MRI scans were performed on all of the participants at the beginning of the study and again an average of a year and a half later. During that time, 23 of the people with mild cognitive impairment had developed Alzheimer's disease, along with three of the healthy participants.

The researchers measured the volume of the whole brain and the hippocampus area, which is affected by Alzheimer's disease, at the beginning and end of the study, and calculated the rate of shrinkage in the brain over that time.

For the people who did not have dementia at the beginning of the study, those with smaller hippocampal volumes and higher rates of shrinkage were two to four times as likely to develop dementia as those with larger volumes and a slower rate of atrophy.

This finding seems to reflect that at the stage of mild cognitive impairment, considerable atrophy has already occurred in the hippocampus," said study author Wouter Henneman, MD, of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. "In people who already have Alzheimer's disease, the loss of nerve cells is more widespread throughout the brain."

About Dementia

Dementia is a progressive brain dysfunction (in Latin 'dementia' means irrationality), which results in a restriction of daily activities and in most cases leads in the long term to the need for care. Many chronic diseases can result in dementia, the most common one being Alzheimer's disease.

The probability of suffering from dementia increases with advancing age. Dementia predominantly occurs in the second half of our life, often after the age of 65. The frequency of dementia increases with rising age from less than 2 % for the 65-69-year-olds, to 5 % for the 75-79 year-olds and to more than 20 % for the 85-89 year-olds. Every third person over 90 years of age suffers from moderate or severe dementia (Bickel, Psycho 1996, 4-8). About half of those affected by dementia suffer from Alzheimer's disease.

About Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a slowly progressive disease of the brain that is characterized by impairment of memory and eventually by disturbances in reasoning, planning, language, and perception. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, which afflicts 24 million people worldwide. Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging and is not something that inevitably happens in later life. It is rarely seen before the age of 65. The likelihood of having Alzheimer's disease increases substantially after the age of 70 and may affect around 50% of persons over the age of 85.

About the American Academy of Neurology (AAN)

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as multiple sclerosis, restless legs syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, narcolepsy, and stroke.



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