Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that is similar to senile dementia except that it begins in the later stages of life, usually after 40 years. Among the first signs and symptoms of the disease are impaired memory along with impaired thought and speech. However, these signs and symptoms appear after a significant damage to the brain.
This disease (along with many other psychiatric problems such as Parkinson’s) can be detected by doctors and experts with the help of drawing and/or writing. However, doctor’s or expert’s opinion matter a lot in detection of such problems, and these problems become apparent only when the patient has already advanced to serious conditions. Without an expert’s opinion, it is difficult to confirm the problem.
Recently, MIT researchers have developed a digital pen that is attached to a custom tracking software. This digital pen can help in finding the condition in early stages by knowing not only what the person draws but also how he/she draws an image or diagram. A simple fact is that healthy people spend more time in thinking, whereas people with memory problems spend a lot more time in thinking and patients of Parkinson’s disease struggle with the process of drawing.
MIT News (http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/could-pen-change-how-we-diagnose-brain-function-0813)
Souillard-Mandar et al. (2015). Learning Classification Models of Cognitive Conditions from Subtle Behaviors in the Digital Clock Drawing Test MLJ
Stiffening of the arteries appears to be associated with the progressive buildup of β-amyloid (Αβ) plaque in the brains of elderly patients without dementia, suggesting a relationship between the severity of vascular disease and the plaque that is a hallmark of Alzheimer disease.
Timothy M. Hughes, Ph.D., M.P.H., of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues.
Evidence suggested arterial stiffness is related to brain aging, cerebrovascular disease, impaired cognitive function and dementia in the elderly.
Chicago – The use of the medication citalopram was associated with a reduction in agitation in patients with Alzheimer disease, although at the dosage used in the study, patients experienced mild cognitive and cardiac adverse effects that might limit the practical application of this medication at the dosage of 30 mg per day, according to a study in the February 19 issue of JAMA.
Agitation, which is common in patients with Alzheimer disease, is persistent, difficult to treat, costly, and associated with severe adverse consequences for patients and caregivers. Pharmacologic therapies have proven inadequate and antipsychotic drugs continue to be widely used for this condition despite serious safety concerns, including increased risk of death, and uncertain efficacy, according to background information in the article. Citalopram, an antidepressant drug frequently used in older individuals, has been proposed as an alternative to antipsychotic drugs for agitation and aggression in dementia, yet there is limited evidence for its efficacy and safety.
An increased risk for Alzheimer disease (AD) appears to be associated with elevated blood levels of a byproduct of the pesticide DDT, which was banned in the United States in 1972 but is still used for agriculture in other countries, according to a study by Jason R. Richardson, Ph.D., of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, Piscataway, N.J., and colleagues.