Category Archives: Dementia

Are Oral Bacteria the Cause of Alzheimer’s Dementia?

Several respected researchers think that Alzheimer’s dementia may primarily be an infectious disease, particularly related to gum bacteria.

From MedScape:

LOS ANGELES — As more disappointing results emerge from anti-amyloid drug trials in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), there is growing interest in novel treatment approaches for this condition.

One such approach is based on the hypothesis that Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg), the bacteria involved in periodontal disease, may cause AD. The biopharmaceutical company Cortexyme Inc is testing this theory with an investigational agent COR388, which targets gingipains, the toxic proteases released by Pg.  Early results show the drug is well tolerated and promising in terms of biomarker findings. Organizers hope that a phase 2/3 trial of the treatment now under way will provide definitive efficacy results.

Source: Gum Disease Bacteria a Novel Treatment Target for Alzheimer’s?

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The Mediterranean diet had been shown to reduce the risk of dementia.

low-carb mediterranean diet

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Higher HgbA1c Levels Linked to Cognitive Decline Over a Decade

HgbA1c (hemoglobin A1c) is measure of average blood sugar levels over the previous three months. From a 2018 study:

In this community-based population, we observed a significant trend for cognitive decline over a 10 year period among individuals aged ≥50 years with normoglycaemia, prediabetes or diabetes at baseline. Additionally, HbA1c levels were linearly associated with subsequent cognitive decline in memory and executive function (but not orientation) irrespective of diabetes status at baseline.

Source: HbA1c, diabetes and cognitive decline: the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing | SpringerLink

h/t to Jan at The Low-Carb Diabetic

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: You know what else helps prevent cognitive decline? The Mediterranean diet.

low-carb mediterranean diet

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World Health Organization Recommends Mediterranean Diet to Reduce Dementia Risk

Steve Parker MD, low-carb diet, diabetic diet

Olives, olive oil, and vinegar: classic Mediterranean foods

Two quotes:

In guidelines released Tuesday, WHO issued its first recommendations to reduce the risk of dementia globally. They include regular physical exercise, not using tobacco, drinking less alcohol, maintaining healthy blood pressure and eating a healthy diet — particularly a Mediterranean one.

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“The Mediterranean diet is the most extensively studied dietary approach, in general as well as in relation to cognitive function,” the report said. “Several systematic reviews of observational studies have concluded that high adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease, but modest adherence is not.”

Source: New global guidelines to reduce risk of dementia released

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Does the Keto Diet Prevent or Treat Alzheimer’s Dementia?

Sunny’s Super Salad

Maybe…we don’t know yet.

Have you noticed references to “keto diet” like there’s only one ketogenic diet? There are many ketogenic diets and some of them are dangerous. When choosing one, at least look for one designed by a registered dietitian or physician.

From a recent scientific article:

Highlights

•Impaired brain glucose metabolism and amyloid β plaques are associated with Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

•Ketones provide an alternative metabolic precursor to glucose in the brain.

•Ketogenic diets likely reduce amyloid plaques and may reverse their neurotoxicity.

•Modern diets high in carbohydrates may contribute to increasing Alzheimer’s incidence.

•The ketogenic diet (including carbohydrate restriction) might be useful in the management of Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: The ketogenic diet as a potential treatment and prevention strategy for Alzheimer’s disease – ScienceDirect

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: If you have Conquer Diabetes and Prediabete,  you already have the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet

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Anti-Alzheimers Drugs Are a Waste of Money

dementia, memory loss, Mediterranean diet, low-carb diet, glycemic index, dementia memory loss

“Honey, let’s talk to doc about stopping those drugs.”

I commonly admit patients to the hospital who happen to be taking either Aricept or memantine (or both) in an effort to slow the cognitive decline of dementia. Aricept is a cholinesterase inhibitor, abbreviated ChEI below.

A meta-analysis published in November 2018 in JAMA Network suggests that folks taking those drugs have a more rapid cognitive decline compared to those who don’t. Moreover, the rate of decline for those taking memantine, with or without ChEIs, was faster than those receiving ChEIs only or receiving neither medication.

A typical dose of Aricept (donepezil) is 10 mg/day. The average wholesale price for that pill is $20.23 (USD). One brand of memantine is called Namenda, and the usual dose is 10 mg twice daily. Average wholesale dose for that is $17.80/day.  Take both those drugs daily for one month and it’s $1,140.90. Or $13,690.80 for a year. And that’s the wholesale price.

I can think of a few better uses of that money.

Admittedly, there must be individual patients that respond better than average to these drug, and some respond worse than average. You can’t tell in advance who those are.

Click the link below for the full study. From the Abstract:

Results

Across 10 studies, of 2714 participants, the mean (SD) age was 75.0 (8.2) years, 58% were female, and 9% were racial/ethnic minorities. There were 906 participants (33.4%) receiving ChEIs, 143 (5.3%) receiving memantine, 923 (34.0%) receiving both, and 742 (27.3%) receiving neither. Meta-analysis showed those receiving ChEIs or memantine were associated with significantly greater annual rate of decline on the ADAS-cog [a test of cognition] than those receiving neither medication (1.4 points/y; 95% CI, 0.1-2.7).

Conclusions and Relevance

Similar to observational studies, many participants in AD clinical trials receiving ChEIs or memantine experience greater cognitive decline. This difference is nearly as large as the hypothesized effect sizes of the treatments investigated in the trials. Concomitant use of ChEIs or memantine may be confounded with outcomes on the ADAS-cog and should be considered in design of clinical trials of potential therapeutic agents for AD. Post hoc analyses stratifying by ChEIs or memantine must be interpreted cautiously given the potential for confounding.

Source: Association of Concomitant Use of Cholinesterase Inhibitors or Memantine With Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer Clinical Trials: A Meta-analysis | Dementia and Cognitive Impairment | JAMA Network Open | JAMA Network

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The Mediterranean diet helps prevent or postpone dementia.

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What’s the Best Blood Pressure Goal If You Have Hypertension?

Not bad

I’m not formally questioning the guidelines of established authoritative bodies, but just maybe they’re too high. The 2017 guideline from the American College of Cardiology recommended a treatment goal of under 130/80. Reduction of cognitive impairment is only one of many considerations in setting a treatment goal.

Aiming for systolic blood pressure of 120 or less (instead of 140) may reduce the risk of age-related brain impairment. A recent study suggests the mechanism is better brain blood flow.

Ischemia means poor or no blood flow.

Small vessel ischemic disease (SVID in the brain) is something I see so often in 70-year-olds that I usually ignore it. Mind you, I’m a hospitalist and usually looking for acute major strokes, brain tumors, and bleeding on CT scans. SVID is a chronic disease and it’s often difficult to say how long a specific lesion has been present and whether it’s causing symptoms. Ischemia in the brain is linked to impaired cognitive functioning and dementia. On the other hand, some brain ischemic lesions don’t seem to cause any detectable impairment.

From JAMA Network:

Question:  Is intensive blood pressure treatment associated with less progression of small vessel ischemic disease, as reflected by cerebral white matter lesion volume?

Findings:  In this substudy of a randomized clinical trial of 449 hypertensive patients with longitudinal brain magnetic resonance imaging, intensive blood pressure management to a target of less than 120 mm Hg, vs less than 140 mm Hg, was associated with a smaller increase in white matter lesion volume (0.92 cm3 vs 1.45 cm3).

Meaning:  More intensive blood pressure management was associated with less progression of cerebral small vessel ischemic disease, although the difference was small.

Source: Association of Intensive vs Standard Blood Pressure Control With Cerebral White Matter Lesions | Dementia and Cognitive Impairment | JAMA | JAMA Network

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The Mediterranean diet also reduces dementia and cognitive impairment.

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Lowering Blood Pressure to 120 Systolic May Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss, Even Dementia

Exercise also seems to protect against memory loss and dementia

Keep your eyes on this development, folks. Potential game-changer. And a boon to Big Pharma. From NBCnews.com…

Lowering blood pressure to recommended levels can prevent dementia and the memory and thinking problems that often show up first [mild cognitive impairment], researchers reported Wednesday.

People whose top blood pressure reading was taken down to 120 were 19 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, the loss of memory and brain processing power that usually precedes Alzheimer’s, the study found. And they were 15 percent less likely to eventually develop cognitive decline and dementia.

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It may take a few more years before the study conclusively shows whether the risk of Alzheimer’s was actually reduced because of the lower blood pressure,the researchers said.

It’s the first intervention that has been clearly demonstrated to lower rates of mental decline.

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The findings come from a large trial of blood pressure called the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, or SPRINT.

It has already found that lowering systolic blood pressure — the top number in a blood pressure reading — to 120 or less can prevent stroke, heart attacks, kidney disease and other problems.

Source: Tight blood pressure control can cut memory loss, study finds

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The Mediterranean diet also protects against dementia.

low-carb mediterranean diet

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