Dementia: What We Know And What We Don’t Know

Dementia is a word that scares us. It describes a very serious, debilitating disease. Despite many years of research and expenditures in the billions of dollars, there is no cure for dementia at this time.

 

After all this research and spent money, what do know and what do we not currently know about this devastating illness?

 

 

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Dementia: Who Is At Risk?

Age is the greatest risk factor for Dementia. Symptoms first appear after age 65. Brain scans can sometimes find a buildup of proteins that block transmission of information to critical arts of the brain. These blockages eventually impair memory, cognition, and motor abilities.

Researchers have found that nutritious food, exercise, sleep and socializing are good preventive medicine for Dementia. One study showed that life changes can reduce your chance of developing this disease  by 35 percent.

Who you are matters

Socioeconomic factors, including education, income and even where you live, play a role in whether Dementia occurs. Race matters, too: African Americans are twice as likely to develop Dementia as Caucasians; Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely.

 

Unfortunately, what we don’t know about this disease outnumbers that which we do not know. Here is what don’t know about Dementia at this time.

 

Dementia: What We Don’t Know

We don’t know exactly what causes this disease. One hypothesis is that abnormal proteins called beta-tau and amyloid form in the brain and prevent the brain’s ability to transmit information.

 

Scientists don’t yet know what triggers the early deposit of abnormal proteins in the brain or how it damages brain neurons. It’s also unknown why a small percentage of people who have plaque buildup don’t end up getting this disease. Consequently, the influence of genetics in transmitting information is unclear.

Despite the many years of intensive research and billions of dollars spent, there is currently no drug cure. Not even a drug that can slow down the disease.

 

There are no drugs available to cure or slow down Dementia, though some may briefly help with its symptoms. Fully 99 percent of clinical trials of Alzheimer’s drugs fail, and some major pharmaceutical companies have stopped trying to develop this class of drugs.

At this time, intensive research continues to find the causes of dementia and a cure.

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