Tag Archives: Alzheimers

The Landscape of Brain Diseases & Disorders

The primary issue that consumes the majority of the burden of healthcare costs in the United States is chronic disease: specifically, as of late, brain diseases and disorders. While primary care providers have long faced the struggle of determining how to implement best practice care for patients diagnosed with chronic diseases, recent studies indicate that almost half of the entire U.S. population has at least one chronic health condition. Statistics designate these health care treatments costs to account for 86% of cumulative national healthcare spending, and the CDC reports that chronic conditions are the leading causes of death and disability in the country.

While recent headlines continuously account for the monetary implications of these disorders, they also impact the very fabric of our society, as these diseases are not confined to one group of people, a specific geographic area, or a certain type of lifestyle: disorders of the brain impact not only your patients, but people you encounter each day. Moreover, the social and financial costs of these diseases are severe.

Roughly 142 Americans die from opioid overdoses each day; 2016 saw 59,000 drug overdose deaths: the highest ever on record. The economic impacts are severe, exacting more than $740 billion in annual costs.

The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is currently at 5 million; by 2050, this number could rise as high as 16 million—costing the nation as much as $1.1 trillion.

Cases and diagnoses of ADHD have been increasing dramatically in the past few years, with the CDC reporting that 11 percent of American children have the attention disorder. The economic expenses range between $143 to $266 billion each year.

More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder; the prevalence of autism in U.S. children increased by almost 120% from 2000 to 2010, making it the fastest-growing developmental disability. Autism services cost between $236 and $262 billion each year.

These diagnoses are multifaceted, nuanced, and complex. In addition to a myriad of doctor’s visits, medical jargon, and an abundance of information, patients and their caretakers must quickly learn to navigate the healthcare system in order to identify the necessary and available services and treatments. These processes require time and resources, committed motivation, and a wealth of support. In order to facilitate education surrounding brain diseases and disorders, the A4M/MMI 26th Annual Spring Congress, taking place at The Diplomat Beach Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida from April 13-14, will focus on brain diseases and disorders: the most current and cutting-edge topics in the landscape of modern medicine.

Keynote speakers include Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, Raun K. Kaufman, and Dr. Brennan Spiegel. Renowned double-board certified psychiatrist, educator, international lecturer, and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Amen is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on the application of brain imaging science to clinical practice; his nationwide clinics have the world’s largest database of functional brain scans relating to human behavior, totaling 73,000 scans on patients from 90 countries.

Dr. Rudolph Tanzi serves as the Vice-Chair of Neurology and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Co-discoverer of three of the first Alzheimer’s disease genes, Dr. Tanzi has identified several other genes through his direction of the Alzheimer’s Genome Project—receiving the highest awards in his field, including TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Raun Kaufman is the author of the book Autism Breakthrough: The Groundbreaking Method That Has Helped Families All Over the World. As a young boy, Kaufman was diagnosed with severe autism. His parents developed the Son-Rise Program, which ultimately enabled Kaufman to recover from his autism with no residual traces. Kaufman currently serves as Director of Global Education for the Autism Treatment Center of America, and holds a degree in Biomedical Ethics from Brown University.

Dr. Brennan Spiegel is the Director of Health Services Research for Cedars-Sinai Health System and Professor of Medicine and Public Health at UCLA, where he teaches digital health science, health analytics and health economics.

At A4M/MMI, we believe that peer-to-peer connections, in conjunction with the latest clinical education, can spur social change—ultimately transforming care and enhancing patient outcomes. Just as spring represents rebirth and rejuvenation, A4M/MMI’s Spring Congress will focus on the concept of ‘brain awakening:’ renewing your understanding of the complex world of the mind, and finding collaborative solutions together. As Leonardo da Vinci aptly stated: “Learning never exhausts the mind.”

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Turmeric: Boosting Memory & Mood

Curcumin, the most active substance of turmeric, is commonly used in Indian cooking as a primary spice—and often used in mustard, butter, and cheese. Findings of a new study have revealed that it may also help improve memory and mood.

In a study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry last week, Gary Small, from UCLA’s Longevity Center, and fellow researchers found that giving 90 milligrams of curcumin daily improved the memory and mood of older adults with mild memory complaints.

The subjects were given standardised cognitive assessments at the start of the study, and at six month intervals. The curcumin levels in the blood were monitored at the start of the study and after 18 months. Thirty of the volunteers underwent positron emission tomography, or PET scans, to determine the levels of amyloid and tau in their brains at the start of the study and after 18 months.

The findings revealed that people who took curcumin experienced significant improvements in their memory and attention abilities, while the subjects who received placebo did not, Small said. People taking curcumin improved by 28 per cent over the 18 months in their memory tests. There were mild improvements in mood for people taking curcumin. The PET scans of their brain showed significantly less amyloid and tau signals in the amygdala and hypothalamus than those who took placebos. The amygdala and hypothalamus are regions of the brain that control several memory and emotional functions.

The researchers also found less signals of tau and amyloid proteins in those who were given curcumin supplements: proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. “Exactly how curcumin may exert cognitive and mood effects is not certain, but several potential mechanisms could explain our findings,” researchers wrote in their study. “Curcumin reduces inflammation, and heightened brain inflammation has been linked to both Alzheimer disease and major depression.”

Countries such as India, where people eat curcumin at levels of about 100 mg to 200 mg a day over long periods of time, have low prevalence of cancer. Researchers suspect this may have something to do with the health benefits of turmeric.

Earlier studies have shown other possible beneficial effects of consuming curcumin on health. In a 2001 study involving patients with precancerous changes, investigators found that curcumin could stop precancerous changes in organs from developing into cancer. “Our results also suggest a biologic effect of curcumin in the chemoprevention of cancer,” the researchers wrote in their study.

Lab tests also showed that turmeric extract that contains curcumin may help stabilize colorectal cancer that did not benefit from other forms of treatment. Other preliminary lab studies also suggest that turmeric may provide protection against high cholesterol, colitis, stomach ulcers, diabetes, depression, and viral infections.

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National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

At A4M/MMI, our mission is to spread awareness surrounding the need for research, funding, and further education in order to prevent age-related diseases. This will not be the last you hear from us concerning Alzheimer’s disease, as it is a topic that both deserves and requires a significant amount of attention.

The month of November has been officially designated as Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, a disease that currently affects more than five million Americans: a number that could potentially skyrocket to 16 million in the next three decades. Not only is Alzheimer’s the sixth-leading cause of death in the country, but the disease also leads to tremendous financial and emotional instabilities, in addition to extensive family strain and stress.

The cognitive losses that accompany Alzheimer’s disease are, at first blush, signs of normal aging: forgetfulness, disorientation, and impairments in functioning that lead to one’s inability to perform basic, rudimentary tasks. Yet these symptoms are merely the tip of the iceberg: depression, anxiety, aggression, and a detachment from reality are some of the emotional and behavioral difficulties caused by Alzheimer’s.

While pharmaceutical medications can alleviate some of the more crippling symptoms of Alzheimer’s, controllable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease remain unknown; thus, it is not yet possible to reduce chances of developing the disease. While the past two decades have seen significant advances in our understanding of the disease, there is still no cure, nor any way to slow the disease’s progression, or reverse the deterioration.

Current mainstream medical therapy aims to preserve diminishing brain function, yet several drugs are currently being studied through clinical trials, with the hopes of improving memory or slowing the disease’s progression. Continued and increased funding in research is critical, as most scientists and clinicians believe that early detection is the primary way in which to stop the disease’s progression—or even ultimately cure it.

To become further involved with research, funding, or learn more about ways to prevent aging-related diseases, take a look at what being an A4M member means.  Enhancing health is always our top priority, and we believe if you are reading this, it is yours too.

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