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Friday, July 20, 2012

Science News Friday, July 20, 2012

We are always interested in ascertaining what stage of the disease our loved ones are currently in, how long they have been living with the disease and how fast it will progress. Here's some news reported by   Bob DeMarco in the Alzheimer's Reading room.
Timeline of Alzheimer's Disease
The timeline, developed through research led by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, appears July 11 in The New England Journal of Medicine
The findings taken from studies with people who have a family history of dementia reveal the dramatic timeline of Alzheimer's disease:

  • 25 years before severe dementia, beta-amyloid protein levels in the spinal fluid begin to drop, suggesting that amyloid has begun to accumulate in the brain.
  • 15 years before severe dementia, beta-amyloid can be detected in the brain. As this does not seem to occur in people without Alzheimer's, it may be the earliest sure sign of the disease.
  • 15 years before severe dementia, tau protein begins to accumulate in the spinal fluid. Many researchers believe that tau is more important than amyloid in Alzheimer's disease.
  • 15 years before severe dementia, the brain begins to shrink.
  • 10 years before severe dementia, brain metabolism slows down.
  • 10 years before severe dementia, episodic memory is impaired. Episodic memories are like snapshots or video footage of a person's experience.
  • 5 years before severe dementia, cognitive impairment sets in.

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