Researchers at Rush Presbyterian St Luke’s Medical Center followed 180 participants in the National Institute on Aging-funded Religious Orders Study. The subjects were tested for memory, language and attention skills each year to evaluate their cognitive status. Thirty-seven men and women were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and 83 with dementia.
Upon autopsy of the brains of those diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, over half were found to have Alzheimer’s disease and a third had evidence of cerebral infarcts (strokes). Fewer than one-fourth of those with MCI showed no signs of either disease.
Lead author David A Bennett MD, who is the director of the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center, commented, "The study shows that mild cognitive impairment is often the earliest clinical manifestation of one or both of two common age-related neurologic diseases. From a clinical standpoint, even mild loss of cognitive function in older people should not be viewed as normal, but as an indication of a disease process."
Although 60 of the participants in the current study did not exhibit cognitive impairment, half of this group were also found to have Alzheimer’s disease pathology upon death, and one-fourth had cerebral vascular disease. Another NIA-funded study is seeking to determine what keeps these individuals from showing signs of impairment.
Dr Bennett stated, “Preventing the accumulation of disease pathology is a common approach to disease prevention. Another way to prevent loss of cognition is to identify factors that protect us from becoming forgetful despite this pathology.”
"From a public health perspective, the number of people with cognitive loss due to Alzheimer's disease and cerebral vascular disease is probably much larger than current estimates," he concluded.
Alzheimer's disease and antioxidants
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA. There is now convincing evidence that oxidative stress and free radical reactions are intimately involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Three main reactions, protein oxidation, DNA oxidation, and lipid peroxidation are thought to be involved in the destruction of neurons which characterizes AD. Studies have shown that the brains of Alzheimer's patients show a significantly greater degree of protein, DNA and lipid oxidation than do brains of non-demented people of similar age. One study found a three-fold increase in mitochondrial DNA oxidation in the cortex of Alzheimer's patients. It is thought that several trace elements, notably iron, aluminum, mercury and copper may all play a role in catalyzing the free radical reactions associated with AD. The neurotoxic amino acid, glutamate has also been implicated. Many studies have shown that vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is effective in combating lipid peroxidation. Other studies have shown that vitamin E also neutralizes the toxic effects of glutamate. A two-year trial of 341 patients with moderately severe Alzheimer's showed that those supplementing with 2000 IU/day of vitamin E slowed disease progression by about 50 per cent. (Note: Large doses of vitamin E may be contra-indicated in some patients). Researchers at the Duke University Medical Center believe that antioxidants such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E, ginkgo biloba, co-enzyme Q10, and chelation may all be useful in the fight against AD, but caution that large clinical trials are still required to prove this.
Pitchumoni, Suresh S. and Doraiswamy, P. Murali. Current status of antioxidant therapy for Alzheimer's disease. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Vol. 46, December 1998, pp. 1566- 72
Comment: Prevention is key here. Now is the time to make sure you are taking a Multi - Vitamin supplement that has large levels of antioxidants with additional E and extra CoQ10 and Ginkgo Biloba herb. Also, not listed here are Omega 3's that should also be part of your prevention regiment.