Millions of dollars are raised every year to research ways to combat the devastating symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. An up and coming solution may come in the form of basic anticoagulants, which are normally used to treat people with blood problems, but in an innovative use of the medications may also help with Alzheimer’s care.
What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is marked by memory loss, the primary symptoms. This can lead to secondary symptoms such disorientation, mood swings, and behavioral changes. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can destroy someone’s life, and the disease progresses through stages, where the memory loss deepens. It can be very difficult to provide proper Alzheimer’s care for a patient, who is often uncooperative and is physically healthy. By the end stages, a patient may not remember loved ones and may need full time care. Often the best way to provide Alzheimer’s care is in a facility such as Sinai Post Acute Care, where a full time staff can take care of the patient’s needs.
How can it help?
With all of the research going into curing the disease, remarkable little has been found to stop the onset and inhibit symptoms. This new approach, however, hold a lot of hope.
Studies have shown that people who have Alzheimer’s disease have poor blood circulation in their brains. The original doctor who identified the disease, Dr. Alois Alzheimer had said that the disease was related to blood vessels in the brain, and research is now confirming that improving blood circulation also improve symptoms of the disease. While it is not confirmed as the sole cause of the disease, it has been shown to improve the symptoms when treated appropriately.
What the anticoagulants do is keep the blood thin and flowing throughout the brain’s vascular system, also preventing deadly clots. This improved blood flow inhibits the signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
How the study worked
The research was done on mice, and it shows that with certain medications, the mice showed no memory loss and no reduced blood circulation in their brains. The study used an anticoagulant called Dabigatran, which is usually given to patients who show signs of deep vein thrombosis, which is manifested by blood clotting in the legs, and pulmonary embolism, a dangerous ailment where there is clotting in the lungs. The medication is usually given as a preventative measure, and it can also be given to patients with irregular heartbeats or other heart and blood disorders than can be fatal. These medications are very successful in their primary uses. The researchers wanted to see if the same effect could improve the blood flow in the brain and aid in preventing memory loss and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dabigatran was given to the mice for a full year, and the mice showed these positive signs. This is a tremendous breakthrough in research to slow and prevent Alzheimer’s development and can lead to improved Alzheimer’s care. A lead author of the study, Dr. Valentin Fuster, said in a press release: “Neurodegenerative diseases are very closely linked to disease in the cerebral blood vessels. The study of the links between the brain and heart is the major challenge for the next ten years.”