The biggest risk for Alzheimer’s is age, according to a presentation at the World Alzheimer Congress, last week. The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s doubles with every five years of age between 65 and 85.
Several experts issued dire warnings about the rate of global population aging. According to the president of the Alzheimer’s Association, Edward Truschke,” we have an imminent worldwide epidemic. If we don’t find a cure more than 22 million people will have this disease in 25 years.”
A key strategy for handling the overwhelming burden of Alzheimer’s cases is to delay the onset of the disease and learn to identify the symptoms very early on, before the disease can take full hold of the brain. Finding a treatment that delays the onslaught of symptoms by even five years could halve the disease’s problems. Research is now focusing on this area, for example studies are currently considering the value of Vitamin E in the prevention of memory loss. Other studies are investigating the effectiveness of estrogen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
New avenues of research are also focusing on preventative measures. “Researchers have identified the proteins that are involved in Alzheimer’s disease that are deposited in the brain,” said Dr. Ronald Peterson of the Mayo Clinic.” They’re working on strategies now to prevent the deposit of that protein in the brain.”
Currently, Alzheimer’s affects about eight million people worldwide. There is no known cure and scientists are still striving to understand the processes that kill off brain cells and cause severe memory disintegration.
The Alzheimer’s Association (U.S.A.) assumed leadership of the world’s largest international conference on Alzheimer’s disease, World Alzheimer Congress 2000. Over a 10-day span, world leaders in Alzheimer research and care united in July 2000, marking the first time these Alzheimer specialists have come together for the vital purpose of sharing information on research and care to improve the lives of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease. This unique gathering of scientists, healthcare professionals and other specialists was the collaborative effort of the Alzheimer’s Association (U.S.A.), Alzheimer’s Disease International, and the Alzheimer Society of Canada.
(For more information about the conference see related article: World Alzheimer Congress 2000)