Alzheimer's Association, July 16-20

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The Alzheimer's Association International Conference

The annual meeting of the Alzheimer's Association was held from July 16 to 20 in London and attracted more than 4,000 participants from around the world, including researchers, clinicians, and other specialists. The conference highlighted the latest advances in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, with presentations focusing on the identification, prevention, treatment, and management of Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and associated conditions.

In one study, Megan Zuelsdorff, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, and colleagues aimed to identify the role of potentially stressful experiences across the lifespan in later-life cognitive function and the well-established racial disparities that are echoed in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer's Prevention (WRAP) study.

"We found that higher numbers of reported stressful life events were associated with poorer cognitive health for all participants," Zuelsdorff said. "When we stratified by race, we found that the 82 African-American study participants reported, on average, 60 percent more stressful events than the 1,242 non-Hispanic white participants, and that for African-Americans, the negative relationship between stress and executive function was stronger."

The investigators also found that, along with quality of education, stressful life events were an important contributor to racial disparities in WRAP.

"One particularly important conclusion is that we need more research -- particularly in African-Americans. Our sample was very small and we don't know whether we would see the same results in another sample, or whether the data in our study represent the experiences of the broader community," Zuelsdorff said. "However, this study does add to the growing body of evidence that, first, earlier life experiences contribute to later life health. And second, that a substantial proportion of health disparities and cognitive health in general is associated with modifiable social determinants, and we can change these outcomes."

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In another study, Liana Apostolova, M.D., of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, and colleagues conducted a survey of patients' and caregivers' opinions regarding the potential utility of amyloid imaging in general as well as their perceptions in regards to the current lack of insurance coverage for this diagnostic test in the United States. The investigators used Trial Match and received hundreds of responses from 48 out of 50 of the United States, as well as from Canada, Greece, and the Dominican Republic. They found that 88 percent of the respondents felt at odds with the lack of insurance coverage for the diagnostic use of amyloid imaging in the United States.

"Only nine responders felt the current lack of coverage is justifiable, but interestingly, all nine of these responders stated they would pursue an amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) scan if recommended by their doctor," Apostolova said.

The researchers also asked survey participants how the information contained in the amyloid PET scan would help them.

"Respondents felt that early diagnosis obtained through amyloid imaging would be beneficial for legal planning (87.5 percent); financial planning (76.9 percent); and seeking information on how to pursue disability insurance (60.0 percent), life insurance (49.0 percent), and long-term care (67.6 percent)," Apostolova said. "Additional benefits were being able to discuss a more definitive diagnosis with family members (91.6 percent) and learning more about their diagnosis (92.9 percent). Some respondents also mentioned clinical trial participation, finding appropriate support groups, finding home care and alternative housing options, and beginning early-stage medical treatments."

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Carolyn Zhu, Ph.D., of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and colleagues found that inaccuracies of dementia identification in Medicare claims are common.

"Regardless of clinical diagnosis, individuals with worse function and cognition are more likely to be identified with dementia in Medicare claims. Milder dementia cases are more likely to be missed by Medicare claims. Misidentification of dementia is associated with over-estimation of cost of Alzheimer's disease," Zhu said. "These results are consistent with reports that suggest only about half of known dementia cases are diagnosed by physicians. Improved recognition of the disease can help improve care management strategies."

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AAIC: Targeting 9 Factors Could Cut One-Third of Dementia Cases

THURSDAY, July 20, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- One-third of dementia cases worldwide might be prevented by paying attention to nine risk factors throughout life, according to a report published online July 19 in The Lancet. The publication was set to coincide with presentation at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 20 in London.

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AAIC: Turnover Kinetics Vary for Different Amyloid β Isoforms

THURSDAY, July 20, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Amyloid beta (Aβ)38 has faster turnover kinetics than Aβ40 and Aβ42, according to a study published online July 19 in Alzheimer's & Dementia to coincide with presentation at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 20 in London.

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AAIC: Rx + Training Shows Benefit in Advanced Alzheimer's

TUESDAY, July 18, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with advanced Alzheimer's can relearn some basic skills when they receive special training along with medication, according to research presented at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 20 in London.

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AAIC: Alzheimer Biomarkers Up With Sleep Disordered Breathing

TUESDAY, July 18, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Biological changes in the brain may underlie a relationship between sleep disordered breathing (SDB) and Alzheimer's disease, according to new research. A trio of studies on the matter were scheduled for presentation at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 20 in London.

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AAIC: Mediterranean Diet May Help Preserve Cognitive Function

TUESDAY, July 18, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Eating right may help protect brain health in old age, a group of new studies show. The research was scheduled for presentation at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 20 in London.

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AAIC: Daily Crosswords Linked to Improved Cognition in Later Life

MONDAY, July 17, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Daily crossword puzzles may help keep the brain sharp, according to research presented at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 20 in London.

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AAIC: One Social Hour a Week in Dementia Care Improves Lives

MONDAY, July 17, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Just a small increase in social interaction benefits older adults with dementia and lowers health care costs, according to research presented at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 20 in London.

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