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Alzheimer’s Breakthrough? Not Just Yet.

Alzheimer’s Breakthrough?  Not Just Yet.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this statement was true! It is certain that many institutions are working hard on a cure, but we are not quite there.

Firstly, a few facts about Alzheimer’s, and dementia generally, and the risk factors.  One of the assessments of the world literature on risk factors for dementia came up with the fact that diabetes, midlife hypertension, low education attainment, physical inactivity, smoking, obesity and depression were the seven key modifiable risk factors for dementia, and many of these are associated with each other.  However much we modify the preventable elements, there probably is still something associated with ageing and the brain, which is inevitable, and we know that as we approach death, the occurrence of dementia or the cognitive impairment is very much linked, particularly in older age. So that cognitive impairment at the end of life is very common indeed particularly  in the 80 plus, and particularly  in the 90 plus age group.

There is enormous potential for reducing the number of people affected by dementia by reducing the impact of risk factors in the population.  It is important for all of us to know that around a third of Alzheimer’s disease cases can be attributed to the seven modifiable risk factors, and are therefore potentially preventable.  Primary prevention is when you try to deal with a risk factor, and seeks to modify exposure to a risk factor before disease.  Secondary prevention is early prevention and seeks to modify the natural history of a disease after prevention.

A recent media article indicated that the first vaccine to prevent Alzheimer’s disease is a step closer because of breakthroughs involving Flinders University.  While this is good news, it’s worth noting that for every 5,000-10,000 compounds that enter development pipelines, only one drug will be approved for use in patients at an estimated cost of US$2.6billion.

You can read the article here.


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