Heart medications may help treat Alzheimer’s disease by reducing plaque buildup in the brain’s blood vessels

By: Emily Lunardo | Alzheimers | Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 12:30 PM

Heart medications may help treat Alzheimer’s disease by reducing plaque buildup in the brain’s blood vesselsHeart medications may help treat Alzheimer’s disease by reducing plaque buildup in the brain’s blood vessels. Researcher Prof. Magnus Grenegård explained, “You should be careful not to draw any major conclusions from experimental studies, but we have certainly identified an interesting approach worth taking further.”

The study revealed how the protein beta-amyloid sticks to the surface of blood platelets, initiating a chain reaction of rapid plaque buildup.

“Plaque causes nerve cells to die at too fast a rate, causing the symptoms indicative of Alzheimer’s disease, such as memory loss. Our study is an example of solid biomedical basic research at the cell and molecular levels which points to a link that was previously unknown. What is shown is that cells in the blood may play a significant role in the development of plaque, which is found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” added Grenegård.

The researchers tested a heart medication that is commonly used to prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of heart attack. In the mice trials, the lumps of protein plaques were reduced by this medication, which means it slows down the process both in the blood vessels and in the brain.

“In deep structures of the brain, where certain memory functions are controlled, there was a clear trend of reduced plaque presence. We do not know if this is transferrable to humans; if the effect would be the same. To find out, new follow-up studies are required. Unfortunately, this is a lengthy process — it will be years before we know. But at least we have identified a new, interesting approach with respect to plaque formation,” continued Grenegård.

How to choose a proper treatment for Alzheimer’s disease

In order to choose the best treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, there are a few things to consider, including the age of the patient, their overall health and medical history, the severity of the disease, suitability of the medication for the patient’s lifestyle, and treatment preferences of the family or caregivers.

Treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but treatments are available to manage symptoms and possibly slow down progression. For starters, medications that can be prescribed to aid in Alzheimer’s disease treatment include cholinesterase inhibitors for improving neuropsychiatric symptoms, memantine for slowing down the progression of symptoms, along with antidepressants for controlling behavioral symptoms.

Another important aspect of treating Alzheimer’s disease is creating a safe environment for the patient. This includes keeping valuables and essentials in the same place, simplifying medications so they can be taken correctly and properly, attending regular appointments, creating a schedule, removing clutter in the home, having the patient wear shoes with a proper grip, removing some mirrors, and keeping meaningful objects or pictures around the house.

Proper exercise and nutrition are also essential to ease symptoms and improve overall health in Alzheimer’s disease patients.


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Related Reading:

Loneliness, an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease and eating problems: Tips to encourage and improve nutrition in dementia patients

Sources:

http://stke.sciencemag.org/content/9/429/ra52
http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/treatment-overview
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20167132

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