Neuroplasticity Can Prevent Alzheimer’s According To This Study

Worried you’ll get Alzheimer’s? Then follow these seven steps


Of the seven factors, low education and and lack of mental stimulation are considered the most significant

By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Keeping your mind active could be one of the most effective ways of fending off dementia despite brain degeneration


Keeping your mind active could be one of the most effective ways of fending off dementia despite brain degeneratio

Playing chess in old age and going jogging or swimming could be the best preventative measures against the development of the degenerative Alzheimer’s disease that affects one in 14 people aged 65 or over.

Along with five other factors – controlling weight, blood pressure and diabetes, avoiding depression and quitting smoking – keeping mentally and physically fit could dramatically cut the incidence of dementia, which is becoming a major human and financial burden around the globe. Mental and physical exercise are most important because they influence the others, by keeping weight and blood pressure down, reducing the risk of diabetes and depression.

People who can do all this and avoid smoking substantially reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Worldwide, an estimated 33.9 million people have the condition and that number is expected to triple in the next 40 years.

A review of research presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Paris yesterday, and published in the medical journal The Lancet, concluded that up to half of all Alzheimer’s cases worldwide are potentially attributable to the seven preventable risk factors. Of these, low education and lack of mental stimulation in old age are considered to be the most significant.

Deborah Barnes and Kristine Yaffe, of the University of California at San Francisco, who wrote the review, say that education and mental stimulation throughout life are believed to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia “by helping to build a cognitive reserve that enables individuals to continue functioning at a normal level despite experiencing neurodegenerative changes”.

Post-mortem examinations have shown that people who were mentally active throughout their lives, with no sign of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, nevertheless had the same degeneration of the brain seen in those who suffered serious dementia while alive. The implication is that the despite this neuro-degeneration, mentally active people manage to stave off the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Overall, the researchers estimate that the seven factors potentially contribute to more than 17 million cases of Alzheimer’s worldwide, or 250,000 in Britain. A 25 per cent reduction in all seven risk factors could prevent as many as three million cases.

In a report on the study, Laura Fratiglioni, of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said none of the seven factors were proven to cause Alzheimer’s but that “accumulated evidence from epidemiological research strongly supports a role for lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors.” Large-scale trials to change these risk factors in populations at high risk, as has been done for heart disease, should now be implemented, she added.


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GE Healthcare to Form Coalition Targeting Neurodegenerative Diseases : Press Releases : News : GE

14 July 2011

GE Healthcare to Form Coalition Targeting Neurodegenerative Diseases

The MIND Coalition will bring together influential organizations and individuals to help fill the gaps in the understanding and management of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Chalfont St Giles, UK — July 14, 2011 — Today GE Healthcare announced a new initiative called MIND — Making an Impact on Neurodegenerative Diseases — which aims to assist physicians in improving the detection, diagnosis and management of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease worldwide. To lead the initiative, GE Healthcare is forming the MIND Coalition, a multidisciplinary, multi-stakeholder body that will bring its influence to bear on this global epidemic.

The Coalition will help to identify gaps in current frameworks for detection, diagnosis and care of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, with particular emphasis on proposing and advocating for positive solutions: what can be improved for patients and caregivers, and how to reduce the cost of disease management in places heavily impacted by aging populations — starting with France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the UK and the United States.

“GE Healthcare is in a unique position to help people and societies deal with the increasing incidence of neurodegenerative diseases around the world,” said Pascale Witz, President and CEO, Medical Diagnostics at GE Healthcare. “By establishing the MIND Coalition, we are committing to making a difference by advancing clinical knowledge, driving new medical innovations, and developing solutions for age-related neurodegenerative diseases.”

One of the first tasks of the Coalition will be to develop a report that describes the current state of neurodegenerative disease management, and a call to action for healthcare providers, regulators, governments and payors.

Neurodegenerative diseases are currently the sixth leading cause of death in high-income countries, with 35.6 million people suffering from dementia worldwide. By 2030 this will increase to 65.7 million and to 115.4 million by 2050. The rising incidence of such diseases not only affects the health and well-being of sufferers and their loved ones, but has a tremendous economic impact. For people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in the US, aggregate payments for healthcare, long-term care and hospice care are projected to rise from $183 billion in 2011 to $1.1 trillion in 2050.

About GE Healthcare
GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services that are shaping a new age of patient care. Our broad expertise in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, performance improvement and performance solutions services help our customers to deliver better care to more people around the world at a lower cost. In addition, we partner with healthcare leaders, striving to leverage the global policy change necessary to implement a successful shift to sustainable healthcare systems.

Our “healthymagination” vision for the future invites the world to join us on our journey as we continuously develop innovations focused on reducing costs, increasing access and improving quality around the world. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, GE Healthcare is a unit of General Electric Company (NYSE: GE). Worldwide, GE Healthcare employees are committed to serving healthcare professionals and their patients in more than 100 countries. For more information about GE Healthcare, visit our website at

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Virtual reality-based exercises to aid Parkinson’s disease patients

Virtual reality-based exercises to aid Parkinson’s disease patients

From ANI

Washington, July 12: A new study has suggested that virtual reality (VR) and physical reality exercises can be used to provide effective stimuli to increase movement speeds in Parkinson’s Disease (PD) patients.Investigators from the Departments of Occupational Therapy, Neurology, and Mechanical Engineering, the Institute of Education, and Allied Health Sciences, the National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan, studied a group of 13 women and 16 men with PD who were age-matched against 14 women and 11 men without PD. Each participant was asked to reach for and grasp a stationary ball as quickly as possible. Then, moving balls were rolled down a ramp and the participants were asked to catch them when they reached a particular point on the ramp. When trying to catch the moving balls, the targets were visible for periods from 1.1 to 0.5 seconds. These trials were done in both normal physical reality and in a virtual reality environment.“This study contributes to the field of rehabilitation by providing evidence about how to manipulate task and environmental constraints to improve movement in persons with PD,” said lead investigator Hui-Ing Ma. “Specifically, this study shows how to manipulate VR scenarios to improve movement speed in persons with PD, while at the same time depicting their movement characteristics in VR,” he said. “Our study extends the previous findings of the moving target effect in physical reality to VR. Our findings suggest that with an appropriate choice of cueing speed, VR is a promising tool for offering visual motion stimuli to increase movement speed in persons with PD,” he added.The study will be published in the August issue of the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Copyright Asian News International/

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What predicts mortality in Parkinson disease?

  • Articles

What predicts mortality in Parkinson disease?

A prospective population-based long-term study

  1. E.B. Forsaa, MD,
  2. J.P. Larsen, MD, PhD,
  3. T. Wentzel-Larsen, MSc and
  4. G. Alves, MD, PhD

+ Author Affiliations

  1. From the Norwegian Center for Movement Disorders (E.B.F., J.P.L., G.A.) and Department of Neurology (E.B.F., G.A.), Stavanger University Hospital, Stavanger; and Center for Clinical Research (T.W.L.), Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Elin Bjelland Forsaa, The Norwegian Center for Movement Disorders, Stavanger University Hospital, Box 8100, N-4068 Stavanger, Norway


Objective: To identify independent risk factors of mortality in a community-based Parkinson disease (PD) cohort during prospective long-term follow-up.

Methods: A community-based prevalent sample of 230 patients with PD from southwestern Norway was followed prospectively with repetitive assessments of motor and nonmotor symptoms from 1993 to 2005. Information on vital status until October 20, 2009, was obtained from the National Population Register in Norway. Cox proportional hazards models were applied to identify independent predictors of mortality during follow-up. Chronological age, Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) motor score, levodopa equivalent dose, probable REM sleep behavior disorder, psychotic symptoms, dementia, and use of antipsychotics were included as time-dependent variables, and age at onset (AAO) and sex as time-independent variables.

Results: Of 230 patients, 211 (92%) died during the study period. Median survival time from motor onset was 15.8 years (range 2.2–36.6). Independent predictors of mortality during follow-up were AAO (hazard ratio [HR] 1.40 for 10-years increase, p = 0.029), chronological age (HR 1.51 for 10-years increase, p = 0.043), male sex (HR 1.63, p = 0.001), UPDRS motor score (HR 1.18 for 10-point increase, p psychotic symptoms (HR 1.45, p = 0.039), and dementia (HR 1.89, p = 0.001).

Conclusions: This population-based long-term study demonstrates that in addition to AAO, chronological age, motor severity, and dementia, psychotic symptoms independently predict increased mortality in PD. In contrast, no significant impact of antipsychotic or antiparkinsonian drugs on survival was observed in our PD cohort. Early prevention of motor progression and development of psychosis and dementia may be the most promising strategies to increase life expectancy in PD.

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Application for iPhone may help monitor Parkinson’s disease

Application for iPhone may help monitor Parkinson's disease


GTRI research scientists Robert Delano (left) and Brian Parise developed iTrem as a tool that could potentially benefit people with Parkinson’s disease. It takes advantage of accelerometers built into the iPhone. (Credit: Gary Meek)

(Medical Xpress) — Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) have developed a novel iPhone application that may enable persons with Parkinson’s disease and certain other neurological conditions to use the ubiquitous devices to collect data on hand and arm tremors and relay the results to medical personnel.

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The researchers believe the application could replace subjective tests now used to assess the severity of tremors, while potentially allowing more frequent patient monitoring without costly visits to medical facilities.

The program — known as iTrem — could be offered later this year by the App Store, an Apple Inc. website that sells applications. But iTrem will first undergo a clinical study at Emory University and must receive any required approvals from the .

“We expect iTrem to be a very useful tool for patients and their caregivers,” said Brian Parise, a research scientist who is principal investigator for the project along with Robert Delano, another GTRI research scientist. “And as a downloadable application, it also promises to be convenient and cost-effective.”

iTrem utilizes the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer to collect data on a patient in his or her home or office. The application directly tracks tremor information currently, and in the future will use simple puzzle games to record tremor data, which will then be processed and transmitted.

The researchers expect the clinical trial to show that data gathered by the program would allow physicians to remotely monitor the degree of disability, progression and medication response among patients with tremor-related conditions. In addition, iTrem offers a social component that allows people to share stories, pictures and data.

iTrem’s developers are working with the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) to form a based on iTrem and future applications that might take advantage of iPhone capabilities. ATDC is a startup accelerator based at Georgia Tech that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful technology companies.

The GTRI team plans ongoing development of iTrem’s interface, based on responses from doctors and patients. They’re also investigating other consumer technologies with diagnostic potential, including the tiny gyroscopes now available in some cellular phones.

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Future developments will include the addition of several other Parkinson’s related tests and investigation of gait analysis in a joint effort with the University of South Florida and the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Fla. Additional developments may utilize the phone for detecting and analyzing dyskinesia, a movement disorder.

More than 10 million people in the U.S. have tremor-related disease, including Parkinson’s, essential tremor and multiple sclerosis, Delano said. Data collected by iTrem could enhance research on tremor disorders, in addition to supporting treatment for current patients, he added.

Most current measurement techniques used by doctors are subjective and are performed infrequently, Delano said. Complex diagnostic procedures such as electroencephalography and electromyography are objective and thorough, but are rarely performed because they’re lengthy, expensive and require a clinical setting. The result is that little data about tremor has been available to track the effectiveness of medication and therapy over time.

By contrast, he said, the ease of gathering tremor data with iTrem could help lead to a significant expansion of research in this area, as a wealth of objective data is collected and analyzed.

“Even factoring in the cost of an iPhone, using iTrem is likely to be more convenient and less expensive for patients than office visits, and the data are accurate and abundant,” Delano said.

A clinical study involving iTrem use is expected to start soon at Emory University’s Movement Disorder Clinic. The study will be led by Dr. Stewart Factor, a researcher in the field of at the Emory School of Medicine.

The GTRI development team presented a paper on iTrem in January at the 2011 International Conference on Health Informatics.

Delano explained that the development of iTrem was linked to his own diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease several years ago. He eventually became frustrated with the subjective approaches commonplace in the characterizing of patient tremor symptoms.

“Currently, doctors observe tremor during office visits and rate it on a subjective scale of zero to four. That approach seemed outdated to me, considering all the technology now available,” Delano said. “My wife Heather, who’s an engineer, remarked that maybe that we could try putting some accelerometers on my arm. That made me think of the in the iPhone — and here we are.”

Provided by Georgia Institute of Technology (news : web)


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Exercise linked to reducing risk of Alzheimer’s – Latest News, Health –

Exercise increases levels of a brain molecule that may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, research has shown.

Scientists believe the protein PGC-1alpha could open the door to new ways of treating Alzheimer’s.

The protein has metabolic effects that also appear to guard against type-2 diabetes.

Researchers studied brain samples from dead Alzheimer’s patients and compared them with others from healthy individuals. They found there was less PGC-1alpha in the Alzheimer’s-affected brains.

Further investigation revealed that cells containing more PGC-1alpha produced less of the toxic amyloid protein that accumulates in the brains of people with the disease.

Since exercise is known to raise levels of PGC-1alpha, the findings may help explain the link between regular physical activity and reduced Alz- heimer’s risk.

They also provide a clue to why people with diabetes are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Magdalena Sastre, from Imperial College London, who led the study, said: “These early results tell us much more about how diabetes and Alzheimer’s are linked, but more importantly, they have given us a potential treatment target.

“Research is the only way to defeat dementia, and it is essential that we follow up this work to see whether drugs that raise the levels of the PGC-1alpha protein could help protect against Alzheimer’s.”

The findings were published yesterday in the ‘Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease‘.

– John von Radowitz

Irish Independent

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Neurology care ‘patchy and inefficient’ | Society |

The NHS is failing to provide proper care for up to 10 million Britons who have a neurological condition such as migraine, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, physicians warn in a report.

Too many patients requiring specialist attention do not get to see a neurologist, while badly organised services may mean that some people’s treatment is less than ideal, it is claimed.

The criticisms are contained in a study by the Royal College of Physicians, which represents hospital doctors, and the Association of British Neurologists. It highlights how patients need different types of services: as an acute admission to hospital, as an inpatient, and for long-term care. “These are currently poorly organised and badly integrated, leaving many patients unable to access the right specialist at the right time and often far from home,” the RCP said.

Dr Steve Pollock, vice-chair of the working group that produced the report, said: “Problems of the central nervous system are extremely common. At their best UK neurological services lead the world, but too often local hospital and community provision does not meet the patients’ needs, being patchy, inefficient and poor value for money.”

Of the 10 million people in the UK who have a neurological condition it is estimated that some 456,000 suffer from epilepsy, 100,000 from MS and 120,000 from Parkinson’s disease.

One in 10 visits to a GP involves a neurological problem, as does a similar number of emergency admissions to hospital, not including strokes. Between 0.6% and 1% of the population is diagnosed with such a condition each year, while 2% of the population is disabled by one of them, the report says.

Despite that, it identified problems such as:

• Too many district general hospitals lack an adequate number of neurologists due to the NHS’s network of large regional neuroscience centres, which conduct research and devise new treatments.

• “Services for patients admitted to hospital with an acute neurological illness are particularly worrying because they are rarely provided by neurologists,” whereas stroke patients will see a specialist immediately.

• The UK has one neurologist per 125,000 people, compared to one for every 40,000 in Europe and the US.

The Department of Health said the report showed why the NHS needed an overhaul. “This is exactly why we need to modernise the NHS. Support for people with long-term neurological conditions has not been good enough,” a spokesman said. Plans to give clinicians more control over commissioning treatment and to closer integration of health services as part of the reorganisation of the NHS in England should improve the situation, he added.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the MS Society, said: “Care for people with neurological conditions such as MS is far too patchy. It can take months, often years, of undiagnosed symptoms before a person is referred to a neurologist. Well co-ordinated planning and commissioning, and care programmes where professionals from all parts of the health service work together, will really achieve the best outcomes.”

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