Posted on | November 25, 2013 | No Comments
Music therapy has been shown to help those with early Alzheimer’s symptoms as well as improving dementia even in the late stage of the disease. Studies have shown that music therapy can help lower stress, improve depression and decrease insomnia because it improves chemical regulation in the brain. Therapeutic effects of music (when used properly) for those with Alzheimer’s include; reduction of stress and agitation and improvement in speech and communication. Music therapy is even known to facilitate improved memory and cognitive functioning, improve coordination of muscle movements and promote positive social interaction in a group.
Recent evidence suggests that lifelong musical experiences can biologically affect and improve brain function, with positive effects that may last into late life. One study on music therapy published in the December 2013 issue of “Clinical Rehabilitation” report in Belgium looked at cognitive effects of music in a group of 25 women with dementia at the Public Psychiatric Hospital for 3 months. Participants who listened to music for 30 minute sessions daily were compared to those who received talk therapy. The results were a significant improvement in cognition in the group that listened to music daily-as evidenced by a rise from an average of 10 to 14 points on the Mini State Examination (MMSE). There was no change in the control group of women with dementia who only received talk therapy.
Positive effects from music therapy have been observed to last as long as 8 weeks even after discontinuing the therapy. Music therapy is known to have an astounding effect on improving social behavior and verbal communication as well as decreasing agitation and negative behavior in those with dementia.
One reason music helps with Alzheimer’s is that the rhythmic beat in music does NOT require cognitive or mental processing. In fact, the sound of music is interpreted in the motor center of the brain which responds directly to auditory rhythmic cues. Since mental processing is not required in order to engage in rhythmic music or singing, these skills can be performed by those with early Alzheimer’s symptoms, or even in the late stage of Alzheimer’s dementia.
Another positive effect of familiar music is that it evokes memory because it can trigger the association of a wide range of emotions attached to the music. The response to specific songs is directly related to one’s personal experience. For example; a calming piece of music for one person, may trigger sadness and loss in another individual who is reminded of a loved one they lost.
Listening to unfamiliar music (particularly classical music) can be very beneficial because it can bypass any negative memories or emotions and may help to stimulate a new response such as relaxation to help with stress. On the other hand, if the nature of the connection to a specific song is unknown, there could be any range of emotional responses in the individual with dementia, so it’s very important to observe closely for any stress, agitation, or muscle tension and discontinue the music when appropriate.
Some of the best selections in music, that will evoke the strongest response and highest level of engagement, include picks from the individual’s young adult years from ages 18 through 25.
Music from an individual’s childhood, such as a folk song, works well to engage those in late stage dementia.
Stimulating music with percussive sounds (such as dance tunes) with quick tempos helps to promote movement; while sedative music (like ballads and lullabies) with slow tempos, little percussion, and unaccented beats, evokes more relaxation and is a perfect choice for the bedtime routine. Stimulating music is good to encourage those who may tend to fall asleep during meals, for use as background music during exercise, or to facilitate movement during ADLs.
Music works very well for early Alzheimer’s symptoms such as memory loss as well as late stages of Alzheimer’s for those with high levels of agitation who are not able to communicate well. Becoming engaged in music, physical exercise, dancing and other music activities can help to diffuse the agitation and redirect attention to a more positive outlet.
As the disease of Alzheimer’s progresses, those with dementia as well as friends and family members may experience a loss of emotional connection and closeness. Music therapy can help to promote reciprocal engagement between care givers and care receivers to help them to reconnect with one another.
Listening to music (particularly classical music) has been shown to improve memory in those with Alzheimer’s disease as well. The “Therapy for Memory program is available online at www.TherapyForMemory.com. This program was designed by a team of healthcare professionals including a neurologist, psychologist and a nurse. The CD was produced by professional musicians, specifically to offer a variety of brain stimulating activities to improve memory and help with Alzheimer’s disease.
Memories are known to form during sleep and listening to music while asleep has been shown to stimulate the brain while improving memory.
In addition to listening to the Therapy for Memory Activity and Educational Program on CD, there are several other ways to integrate music into the daily care plan of those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Some suggestions to be considered include:
- Set aside time every day to listen to favorite songs from childhood, high school, college years, early adulthood, and beyond. Try to listen to more upbeat familiar music either in the morning or afternoon for about 1 hour per day, and more relaxing familiar songs in the evening before bed.
- Keep in mind that perceptual changes can alter the way those with dementia hear and interpret music. Keep a close eye on the patient’s response and if you notice that they are having a negative experience or say it doesn’t sound good, turn the music off immediately.
- Songs that remind listeners of familiar events in the past may help to rekindle memories of past events. Look at old pictures from those events while listening to the music for a more powerful result.
For more ideas on how to incorporate music therapy into the daily routine of those with Alzheimer’s click here to purchase the book; Alzheimer’s Treatment/Alzheimer’s Prevention writing by Harvard trained neurologist, Dr. Richard Isaacson.
To learn more about scientific evidence for music therapy for those with Alzheimer’s disease, or to view a live demonstration of the music activity and educational program on CD, visit www.TherapyForMemory.com.
Posted on | November 14, 2013 | No Comments
The holiday season is upon us again, and for those who have loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease on your holiday gift list, finding the perfect gift may come as a real challenge. But buying gifts for Alzheimer’s patients doesn’t have to be difficult. There are actually lots of great ideas for those with Alzheimer’s -many that can even help with some of the daily struggles of the disease.
Under $20 Gifts for Alzheimer’s Patients
The Alzheimer’s Diet book- this book is a must read for anyone with a close friend or family member with Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Diet book was written by Harvard trained neurologist, Dr. Richard Isaacson, and Dr. Christopher Ochner Ph.D., clinical psychologist and expert in nutrition and the brain. This handy guide outlines a step-by-step method of selecting the best foods for prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s. This book is chocked full of suggestions on healthy foods to eat, as well as those to avoid for Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment. There are also lots of delicious recipes to make implementing the diet into your daily routine a snap.
Alzheimer’s Treatment /Alzheimer’s Prevention: A Patient & Family Guide, 2012 – also written by Dr. Richard Isaacson, this is an easy to read book which outlines the latest treatment modalities for Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Isaacson answers many common questions about the disease and provides great information on the latest research on Alzheimer’s treatment and prevention, as well as his cutting edge method of fighting Alzheimer’s disease. You’ll find information on just about every question you can think of when it comes to each stage of the disease, including; information on the best medication for Alzheimer’s, how to reduce side effects, how to improve insomnia, and more.
Therapy for Memory: Music Activity & Education Program CD-this is a great gift idea if you are looking for an inexpensive therapeutic gift for your loved one. In his book, Alzheimer’s Treatment/Alzheimer’s Prevention, Dr. Isaacson tells us about the value of improving memory by listening to music for those with Alzheimer’s. In fact recent research suggests that a lifelong experience with music has a positive biological affect that can improve brain function into the late stages of life. This CD, developed by a team of medical professionals and musicians, features mind stimulating music that has been proven to help improve overall brain function and memory.
Therapy for Memory: Tranquil Sounds for Relaxation and Sleep CD – this CD was specifically made for listening to while getting ready for bed or while sleeping. Memories are formed during sleep and research has shown that listening to music lowers stress which helps protect the brain from aging. This CD can be used for background music during the day or a relaxation CD to help those who have difficulty falling asleep. It’s a great gift idea for those with caregivers on their list this holiday season as well!
Stronger Seniors Chair Exercise Program (2 discs) or Seniors Exercise DVD –there has been a lot of research about the benefits of exercise on brain health. In fact, a regular exercise routine has been found to have a positive effect on just about every medical risk associated with Alzheimer’s disease-such as; high blood pressure, insulin resistance, obesity and sleep apnea, to name a few. Implementing a safe and practical exercise program for elderly folks can be a real challenge. This CD addresses the special needs of those with Alzheimer’s including sitting exercises that can be done even if your loved one is in a wheel chair.
Other Great Gifts for Alzheimer’s Patients
Light Therapy- Many people with Alzheimer’s have trouble sleeping at night. Light therapy with blue LED lights has been proven to help insomnia for those with Alzheimer’s disease. This unit is available in a portable version or a home unit.
CocoaVia Powder - This delicious healthy dark chocolate powder can be enjoyed as a tasty cup of hot cocoa while offering a high level of flavonoids-known to help with Alzheimer’s prevention, improve memory, and even lower blood pressure! This form of cocoa powder is naturally low in saturated fat and sugar-perfect for incorporating the Alzheimer’s diet over the holiday season!
To buy one of these great Alzheimer’s gifts or to learn about other unique gift ideas for those with Alzheimer’s disease, CLICK HERE
Posted on | November 8, 2013 | No Comments
Alzheimer’s disease is perhaps one of the most misunderstood neurological disorders, and for good reason. Criteria for diagnosing mild Alzheimer’s continues to change, and there are many conflicting views on diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
In order to fully understand Alzheimer’s disease, comprehending some of the applicable medical terms is necessary. For example; dementia is a decline of an individual’s mental ability which becomes severe enough to interfere with independence in daily living. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia is a term that describes a wide range of symptoms including memory loss and other deficits in thinking skills that are severe enough to interfere with one’s activities of daily living- also referred to as “ADL’s.” According to Alz.org 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
What is MCI?
There is a lot of confusion about the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment also called “MCI.” The term “cognitive” refers to awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment in thinking. Mild cognitive impairment is a condition that causes adverse cognitive changes that are noticeable to the individual with MCI as well as to those around him/her. These impairments are not severe enough, however, to interfere with ADL’s, therefore they do not meet the criteria for a full-blown Alzheimer’s diagnosis. MCI is a fairly prevalent condition occurring in up to 20% of individuals age 65 and older, according to Alz.org.
The bad news is that those with mild cognitive impairment have a greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. It’s important to note that NOT all people with MCI will get Alzheimer’s, Some may even see an improvement of symptoms with time-unlike individuals with Alzheimer’s disease which is a progressive disorder (meaning the condition will continue to worsen with time).
MCI used to be a disorder involving ONLY memory loss, but recently new guidelines have been adopted that break MCI down into classifications according to the symptoms. For example, those with mostly memory loss are said to have “amnestic MCI,” and when thinking skills (such as the ability to make good decisions, or knowing the proper sequence of steps to finish a task) are adversely affected it’s referred to as “nonamnestic MCI.”
Not everyone with MCI will go on to be diagnosed with dementia, but a very high percentage of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease had MCI as a predisposing factor to the disease. According to the American Psychological Association; “In a given year, about 15 percent of people with a new MCI diagnosis will progress to dementia. “By about eight years out, roughly 80 percent of people will have progressed.”
Risk factors for MCI are the same as those for Alzheimer’s disease, including; age, family history, and those with an increased risk for heart disease.
Currently there is no treatment for mild cognitive impairment. Drugs to treat Alzheimer’s have NOT been found to slow down the symptoms of MCI. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends the following interventions for those with MCI;
- Exercise regularly to help promote good circulation to the brain
- Familiarize yourself with cardiovascular risk factors and follow recommendations to control those risks in order to protect blood vessels to promote brain health
- Participate in mentally stimulating activities daily such as- purchase music therapy for memory CD
- Get involved socially-which helps maintain healthy brain function
- Seek medical re-evaluation frequently, some experts suggest as often as every 6 months
- Find local supportive services in your community. The Alzheimer’s Association’s designated help line can be reached at 1-(800)- 272-3900
To learn more about Alzheimer’s treatment and how proper diet may contribute to Alzheimer’s prevention, visit Harvard trained neurologist, Dr. Richard Isaacson’s website and purchase your copy of his books today-“The Alzheimer’s Diet book” and “Alzheimer’s Treatment/Alzheimer’s Prevention.”
Posted on | April 1, 2013 | No Comments
Use it or lose it! Read the interview with Dr. Isaacson on WebMD on new research showing that staying physically and mentally active can help fight memory loss.
It is essential to take a comprehensive approach for preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss, and this can include dietary changes, physical exercise, mental exercise, social engagement, specific medications, vitamins, supplements, medical foods, music activity and educational programs, and of course, caregiver support.
Posted on | January 27, 2013 | No Comments
Wow! We we have now received over 700 responses to our recent post on Facebook, asking our experts to help suggest Brain-Healthier alternatives for their meals. Here are two Brain-Healthy meal suggestions, based on the new book, The Alzheimer’s Diet, by Drs. Isaacson and Ochner. If you would like our Experts to suggest Brain-Healthier alternatives for your meal, Click Here!
Meal Submitted by Facebook Fan named “Doug D.”: “Cheeseburger”
Can a Cheeseburger be made “Brain Healthier”? Absolutely! It is possible to make a few small changes to meals without sacrificing taste, and also keeping your belly (and brain!) happy at the same time. But before our experts comment on this, we want to point out that when it comes to making Brain-Healthy decisions, it’s important to consider all of the different components of the foods and meals we eat. For example, all Cheeseburgers are not created equal! Was there mayo added? Butter on the bun? How was the hamburger prepared and what ingredients were used to prepare it? These aspects are important to consider, since each ingredient may have a more Brain-Healthy substitute.
Also, when it comes to keeping food records in general (or when submitting meals for review by our experts), the more detail provided, the better. See example below for an incomplete vs. complete meal sample:
Bad example: Cheeseburger
Good example: Hamburger bun, Butter on bun, Pan-fried hamburger patty (80% lean), Oil in pan (canola), American cheese (full fat, one slice), Mayonnaise (full fat), Ketchup (1 ounce), Tomato slice, Onion slice
A great Brain-Healthy learning point here is that even a few of these ingredients can be modified without much noticable difference in taste. For example, light mayonnaise can have over 50% less fat and calories as the full fat alternative, eliminating the harmful trans fats altogether, and cutting down on brain-draining saturated fat (half tablespoon with 25 calories, 2 grams of fat, and onky 1 gram of carbohydrate). Click here for a Brain-Healthy Cheeseburger alternative (from page 96 of The Alzheimer’s Diet).
Meal Submitted by Facebook Fan: “Two slices of pepperoni pizza, ice cream cake, a glass of cranberry juice, and a pretzel”
Our experts selected this meal because they believe it typifies the types of foods a lot of us enjoy eating. Here’s where some brain-healthy changes could go a really long way without giving up the types of foods we love.
PIZZA: (Dr. Ochner’s favorite and something he eats on at least a weekly basis). Unfortunately loaded with brain busting saturated fat and high-glycemic carbs when purchased from the store, so let’s explore an option for quick home cooking from page 95 of The Alzheimer’s Diet: – 1 Flatbread from Trader Joe’s – 12 slices turkey pepperoni – 1/2 cup tomato sauce (no sugar added) – 1/2 cup fat free mozzarella cheese – 1/8 cup mix of oregano, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and parsley – Trust us, it’s delicious and non-greasy
ICE CREAM CAKE: The ones with the chocolate crunchies in the middle are the best! How about a brain healthy hot fudge sundae? Not too good to be true, check out page 97 of The Alzheimer’s Diet:
- 1 cup sugar-free ice cream
- 4 tablespoons calorie-free fudge topping (Not only does this exist, but it actually tastes good. Check specialty food stores.)
- 2 tablespoons fat-free whipped cream
CRANBERRY JUICE: At the very least, make sure it’s 100% juice! We would be willing to bet this was actually cranberry juice ‘cocktail,’ which means anywhere from 5-25% actual juice and the rest basically sugar and food coloring. No bueno. If you love juice, either get the light version of your favorite juice or if you don’t want to shell out the extra $, just make sure it’s 100% juice and mix half water and half juice. You’ll notice the 50/50 mix quenches your thirst much better.
PRETZEL: High-glycemic carbohydrate, which is not good for the brain. If it’s one little pretzel or pretzel stick, no big deal. If it’s a giant 400 calorie soft pretzel, try baby carrots dipped in fat-free or low-fat dressing (try Ken’s Steakhouse Lite Sweet Vidalia Onion) or baked tortilla chips with unlimited salsa. These will give you the crunch factor and make the belly happy.
Our experts would definitely recommend more lean, high-quality protein, as this meal is very heavy on the carbs and sugar. However, most diets fail b/c they teach us that we have to stop eating the foods we love. The overall point here and in The Alzheimer’s Diet is to keep eating the kinds of foods you love, just do so in a brain healthy manner. Here’s our best estimates based on 2 slices pepperoni pizza, normal slice ice cream cake and medium soft pretzel -
Original meal: 1,746 calories; 66 total grams fat; 35 grams saturated fat; 255 grams carbohydrates
Brain healthy but just as delicious alternative meal: 787 calories; 11 total grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 83 grams carbohydrates
If you would like our experts to suggest Brain-Healthier alternatives for your meal, visit our Facebook page and click the link posted on January 12 to get started. We will select several examples to discuss in our next Newsletter and on our Facebook page.
Hope this helps. Enjoy and be well!
Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation Conference & Book Signing at the Book Revue: Dr. Isaacson and Dr. Ochner
Posted on | January 5, 2013 | No Comments
Join Us in Huntington, NY for two special events on Tuesday, February 12, 2013!
Live Lecture: Dr. Isaacson will be speaking at the 25th Annual Coping and Caring Conference, sponsored by the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation. Anyone can register by calling (516) 767-6856, or for more information, Visit www.liaf.org. He will review the latest research proving that diet can be an effective tool to both treat and reduce risk of developing AD and memory loss. The title of his lecture is “ALZHEIMER’S DIET MODIFICATION: NUTRITIONAL APPROACHES FOR MEMORY LOSS”.
Book Signing at Book Revue: Later that evening at 7 pm, Dr. Isaacson and Dr. Ochner will be hosting a book signing and live question and answer session at the Book Revue, 313 New York Avenue, Huntington, NY 11743. Click Here to Register Now! If you are unable to attend, be sure to Join Our Mailing List or Follow Us on Facebook, for updates about Live Video streaming of this event on Facebook and on our Website (more details to follow soon)!
Please Share these Events with Family & Friends!
Join Leeza Gibbons and Dr. Isaacson this Thursday, November 15 at 8 pm EST for free, live webcast Q & A
Posted on | November 13, 2012 | No Comments
Save the Date! This Thursday, November 15 at 8 pm EST, join Emmy-winning TV personality and Alzheimer’s caregiving advocate Leeza Gibbons and Harvard-trained Neurologist and Author of the new book The Alzheimer’s Diet and Alzheimer’s Treatment Alzhiemer’s Prevention: A Patient & Family Guide, 2012, Dr. Richard Isaacson, for a free, live webcast Q & A. During the webcast, Dr. Isaacson will provide an overview of the role of nutrition in AD and tips on improving your loved one’s diet, and answer live questions from audience that anyone can submit online. Click here for a reminder email and to submit a question for the panel.
The webcast will be held on www.AlzheimersDisease.com – be sure to log in and feel free to submit questions either before or during the webcast to be answered by Leeza, Paula Spencer Scott, Senior Editor at Caring.com and Dr. Isaacson, who will be discussing his latest research on diet and AD, including new updates that were recently published.
Posted on | November 3, 2012 | No Comments
Last week, the international Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s disease conference (CTAD) 2012 was held. It was a very exciting conference, including updates on the importance of dietary changes in the fight against AD, the two vaccine studies (Bapineuzumab & Solanezumab), as well as more data on the reasons why certain people will be more or less likely to respond to different therapies based on their genetic code. This article reviews several of the research highlights from the meeting.
Research on Diet for AD Treatment and Prevention:
Recent research shows that AD may be effectively managed through diet and nutrition, and these non-drug dietary approaches that balance safety with scientific evidence are essential considerations for comprehensive management. In an effort to more optimally study effects of dietary patterns, Drs. Isaacson, Ochner and R. Khan developed a comprehensive, web-based AD nutrition tracking system (AD-NTS). Interim data suggests users are highly satisfied with the current functionality and Likert scale ratings are also uniformly positive. The AD-NTS should be available for free to the general public later this year.
Additional research has tested the effect of dietary interventions for both AD and mild cognitive impairment (MCI, or “pre”-Alzheimer’s disease). It is essential for clinicians to be aware of this research in order to best educate and inform patients, and a presentation by Ochner, Barrios, Lee, Greer, and Isaacson used Pubmed to identify clinical trials and additional studies addressing the relation between dietary practices and memory function. Evidence, with deference to clinical trials, surrounding the use of dietary interventions for the prevention and treatment of AD and MCI was rated as: Strong, Moderate, Weak or Insufficient for the focus areas of the Mediterranean Diet, Low Carbohydrate and Low Glycemic Diet, Low Saturated Fat Diet, Antioxidants, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Coconut Oil. The authors concluded that there is evidence in support of certain specific nutritional interventions for AD and MCI. Moderate evidence supports the Mediterranean diet for reducing risk of developing MCI and converting from MCI to AD. There is Moderate support for the use of low carbohydrate and low saturated fat diets. The synergistic effects of these dietary combinations is reported. These diets appear relatively safe and have been associated with additional health benefits in overweight and obese individuals. Evidence of neuroprotective effects of dietary antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids is growing. Due to the lack of empirical evidence and potential for adverse effects (atherosclerosis and hypercholesterolemia), there is Insufficient evidence (meaning, not enough research has currently been done yet to prove) for coconut oil for MCI or AD. Ultimately, there remains a clear need for further scientific evaluation of the use of dietary interventions for the treatment and prevention of AD. There is a particular need for clinical trials to determine whether the dietary interventions discussed here have a definitive causal role in protecting and/or regaining memory function.
When it comes to AD treatment, there are several recent studies that show that when patients with AD or MCI change their diets significantly (most significantly, decreasing the total amount of cabohydrates that they eat), that memory scores improve (Craft and colleagues, Archives of Neurology, June 2011) In a study by Krikorian and colleagues (published in Neurobiology of Aging, December 2010), in addition to memory improvements, patients also had improved blood sugar levels, had less insulin resistance and also lost weight.
Genetics play a role in the Effectiveness of AD therapies for Treatment and Prevention:
The term “Pharmacogenomics” refers to the fact that certain medications may work better in some people, but not as well in others, and this is based on a persons genetic code (genes from mom and dad). The term “Nutrigenomics” refers to diet therapies that may work better in some people, but not as well in others, and this too is based on a persons genetic code (or DNA). For example, we now know that having one copy of the APOE4 gene may decrease the chances of responding to several therapies. Much research needs to be done to clarify these points, and note that we are not yet at the point where practitioners are able to send blood samples in order to make treatment decisions, but this may change in the future.
Posted on | November 1, 2012 | No Comments
Looking for gifts for a loved one with memory loss or Alzheimer’s, or their caregivers or family members?
Visit: www.TheADplan.com/alzheimersgifts for several great gift ideas, including books, activities & non-drug therapies (most under $20).
There are quick links to a variety of tools to help fight AD, as well as meaningful activities for patients with AD, dementia and memory loss that the whole family can enjoy.
Posted on | October 11, 2012 | No Comments
Results released this week on the experimental Alzheimer’s drug Solanezumab were met with both excitement and skepticism by experts in the AD community. Read the excerpt below from an interview with AD specialist Dr. Richard Isaacson, Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and Author of Alzheimer’s Treatment Alzheimer’s Prevention: A Patient and Family Guide, and The Alzheimer’s Diet: A Step-by-step Nutritional Approach at Memory Loss Prevention and Treatment, at the American Neurological Association meeting in Boston, MA.
This will be one of three new drugs that will be tested in the first-ever broad scale Alzheimer’s prevention studies to begin soon. While we are all excited about the possibility of a drug to one day prevent AD, in the meantime we should all pay close attention to lifestyle changes, like regular exercise and specific dietary changes, to reduce risk and improve brain and body health.
Question: What are your thoughts on the results that were released this week?
Dr. Isaacson: “As an Alzheimer’s specialist with a family history of AD, I am especially encouraged by these results. Prior to these conclusions, I was certain that there was a specific subgroup of patients that was responding to the experimental vaccine therapies [like Bapineuzumab & Solanezumab]. However, since these studies were not set up to study these specific subgroups, I was concerned that while these drugs may work for certain people, the results would not demonstrate that. Future studies for both treatment and prevention should begin soon, building on this great progress.”
Question: What were you most excited about and why have some of your colleagues not been as impressed as you are?
Dr. Isaacson: “The most encouraging aspect was that when looked at as a large group (or using pooled results), patients with mild AD had 34 percent less decline in memory and other thinking skills that those on the placebo [no treatment]. Many of my colleagues remain skeptical of these results since the overall study was “negative”. This means that when the study was planned many years ago, much less was known about the potential of these new agents, and unfortunately the study was not planned in a way to adequately study different subgroups of patients. It was only planned to study patients with a range of mild to moderate AD. Future studies will most likely be planned to include the most mild AD patients, as well as “pre” Alzheimer’s patients (also referred to as Mild Cognitive Impairment or MCI) as specific subgroups. This will allow for a much greater chance for the studies to be “positive” and later leading to approval as a drug by the FDA.”
Question: So are you saying that if these studies were planned differently, to include the most mild patients or even those with pre-Alzheimer’s, that they may have been positive?
Dr. Isaacson: “Absolutely. In 2012 we have made great strides in our understanding of AD. However, we still have a long way to go in terms of understanding which therapies may be more effective in different groups of patients. For example, some drugs may work in patients at risk of developing AD who have not yet had the onset of symptoms (called the pre-clinical stages). We know that AD starts in the brain at least 20-30 years before the onset of symptoms, and as such, preventative strategies are most likely to work when started early. Also, there is a term called pharmacogenomics, meaning that certain people will be more or less likely to respond to a therapy based on their genetic code. For example, we now know that having one copy of the APOE4 gene may decrease the chances of responding to several therapies. In fact, certain treatments like DHA fish oil, Axona (a medical food), and another vaccine that was recently studied called bapineuzumab showed that patients with certain genes responded better than others without that type of genetic code. Much research needs to be done to clarify these points, and we are not yet at the point where practitioners are able to send blood samples in order to make treatment decisions, but this may change in the future. We wrote an article on this topic called Genetics of Dementia in the Continuum series (American Academy of Neurology, April 2011), which you can review for more detailed information. While we are all excited about the possibility of a drug to one day prevent AD, in the meantime we should all pay close attention to lifestyle changes, like regular exercise and specific dietary changes, to reduce AD risk and improve brain and body health.”
For more information of the treatment and prevention of AD, including which therapies are more likely to be effective based on the stage of the disease, and in different patient types, read “Alzheimer’s Treatment Alzheimer’s Prevention: 2012 Edition,” available on Amazon.com, Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Kobo. Visit: www.TheADplan.com, or in Spanish: www.TheADplan.com/Espanol.
For more information on nutrigenomics and dietary strategies that are grounded in scientific-evidence, visit www.TheAlzheimersDiet.com to request an Email when the new book, The Alzheimer’s Diet: A Step-by-step Nutritional Approach at Memory Loss Prevention and Treatment, is released.keep looking »