Sumary of Will we ever cure dementia?:
- Melbourne, November 25 If there is one dreaded word uttered by doctors to rival cancer, it’s dementia.
- First, it’s a cumulative condition with multiple causes that impact on the brain at various times during a person’s life span.
- Second, dementia creeps up on a person with changes in the brain beginning decades before a person actually starts to show symptoms.
- In fact, some of the most comprehensive autopsy studies conducted in large populations find the majority of people dying with dementia show a variety of different types of brain changes probably occurring over a few decades.
- Not only is there a build-up of proteins in the brain called amyloid and tau that are traditionally regarded as markers of Alzheimer’s disease, but also changes seen in other conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, and importantly, evidence of damage from poor cardiovascular health such as strokes.
- People are more likely to show symptoms of dementia during life if they have a combination of these brain changes rather than just one of them, suggesting that a little of each may add up over time.
- Many of these brain changes occur silently and at various times during a person’s lifespan, and at varying rates in different people.
- There comes a point when the brain’s ability to function well becomes compromised, and this is when the first symptoms occur.