Alzheimer

On entend encore souvent qu’il n’y a pas de traitement efficace contre la maladie d’Alzheimer. Ce n’est vrai que dans la mesure où il n’y a pas encore de traitement qui guérisse la pathologie cérébrale. Mais nous pouvons déjà faire beaucoup pour les patients et leurs proches.

Il faut différencier les difficultés légères d’une part et les démences avérées d’autre part. Dans le premier cas, il s’agit de symptômes très légers, sans répercussion sur la vie quotidienne ou alors de problèmes de mémoire ressentis, mais sans déficit avéré. Ce sont parfois des signes précurseurs d’une maladie d’Alzheimer.

Mais souvent, ces troubles ont d’autres causes: une maladie vasculaire, une affection inflammatoire, un déséquilibre hormonal ou métabolique.…  Seguir leyendo »

En 2011, Ben Trumble dejó la selva boliviana y se llevó una mochila que contenía cientos de viales con saliva. Había pasado seis semanas siguiendo a los indígenas mientras se movían por la selva, lanzándole flechas a los jabalíes. Estos hombres eran miembros del pueblo tsimané, que vive como lo hacían nuestros ancestros hace miles de años: cazando, buscando comida y cultivando pequeños terrenos.

Trumble les había pedido a los hombres que escupieran dentro de los viales varias veces al día para poder mapear sus niveles de testosterona. Quería descubrir si los cazadores eran recompensados con un pico de testosterona, y así fue.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace 20 años publicamos en este diario (EL PAÍS, 25 de febrero de 1997) un artículo sobre el reto de las demencias, especialmente la más frecuente, la producida por la enfermedad de Alzheimer. Llamábamos la atención sobre las dificultades diagnósticas y el abrumador aumento de personas afectadas por las enfermedades demenciantes. Pasaron 20 años y hemos avanzado poco en resultados, si bien se ha dado un vuelco en los esfuerzos personales y económicos dirigidos al diagnóstico, e incluso empezamos a tener posibles líneas de tratamiento en investigación. No obstante, el aumento de la esperanza de vida y el consiguiente incremento del número de personas mayores hace que el problema alcance proporciones epidémicas.…  Seguir leyendo »

A couple of generations back, two women in my family “lost their minds.” One started wandering in her 60s, the other became obsessed with dolls in her late teens. The wanderer died at home in 1945, and best I can now tell, the regressing teenager died in a sanitarium about the same year.

As a boy, I vaguely recall an occasional impolite question about one or the other woman. The answer was always delivered with a lowered voice: She lost her mind. That was it, end of conversation — she just lost her mind. Just as when it sometimes happened to other folks in town, maybe from bad well water, from poisoning, perhaps spite or sin.…  Seguir leyendo »

La enfermedad de Alzheimer es con mucha diferencia la causa más común de demencia y uno de las afecciones más temidas del mundo. En 2050, habrá 135 millones de pacientes de alzhéimer, el triple que ahora, y las tres cuartas partes de los casos se darán en países de renta media o baja. La tarea de predecir el comienzo del alzhéimer –por no hablar de prevenirlo o curarlo– sigue siendo inmensa.

Hace más de un siglo que se descubrió la enfermedad de Alzheimer a partir de los resultados de autopsias que revelaban unas lesiones cerebrales características llamadas “placas amiloides”. En las personas vivas resulta más difícil de diagnosticar.…  Seguir leyendo »

A panel of medical experts from the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association last week proposed changes in the way doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s disease — including the use of so-called biomarkers, tests like PET brain scans and analyses of spinal fluids to promote early detection of the disease. Although these recommendations are well intentioned, evidence suggests that it would be a mistake to adopt them at this time. To understand why, it’s important to recognize what these tests mean, in what context the information will be used and what experience has shown us.

First, about the diagnostic tests: A PET scan detects clumps of a deformed protein called amyloid beta, commonly known as plaques.…  Seguir leyendo »

Not so very long ago I found that I (a writer, editor, mother of three, but otherwise a free agent) had volunteered to become a full-time carer for someone with Alzheimer’s: my mother-in-law, Nancy. She and her husband, Morris, came to live with us in a vast Victorian house surrounded on three sides by sea in the far, far North of Scotland.

Previously I’d thought of my “self” as something inviolable, something that was permanently me. The experience of dementia, of seeing it taking hold, undermined the remnants of faith in myself as a soul. Alzheimer’s taught me that I am a biological creature: that what we consider as self is a construction contingent entirely on health.…  Seguir leyendo »

To most people the very mention of Alzheimer’s induces a state of hopelessness. We make nervous jokes about «senior moments», or express don’t-know-how-you-manage sympathy to carers. Those with Alzheimer’s themselves, meanwhile, are often talked of as if they’ve already slipped the bonds of humanity: they’re ex-persons.

So if I told you that I’d spent an evening at the Wellcome Collection in London a few weeks ago discussing dementia and emerged feeling excited, you might wonder about the soundness of my mind. Yet the pioneering work described there is profoundly improving the experiences of both people with dementia and their carers. Later this month the government launches a national dementia strategy.…  Seguir leyendo »

By David Shenk, the author of The Forgetting: Alzheimer’s, Portrait of an Epidemic (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 03/11/06):

One hundred years ago today, a 42-year-old German psychiatrist and neuropathologist named Alois Alzheimer shocked colleagues with his description of one woman’s autopsied brain.

The woman was named Auguste Deter. Five years earlier, her husband had admitted her to Alzheimer’s psychiatric hospital in Frankfurt with a disturbing set of symptoms: memory trouble, aphasia (loss of the ability to use words), confusion, bursts of anger and paranoia. She had become a danger to herself in the kitchen and needed constant care.

Alzheimer found his new patient sitting on a bed with a helpless expression.…  Seguir leyendo »