Alzheimer’s: Is there a glimmer of hope?
If you thought that living in the Charleston area was terrific because of the scenery, the culture and the food, there may be another great reason to hang around the Lowcountry. On August 7, 2019 the Kiawah-Seabrook Exchange Club heard a presentation by Dr. Jacobo Mintzer, Executive Director of Clinical Research and the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the Roper St. Francis Biotechnology Research Institute in Charleston. Dr. Mintzer leads the organization’s efforts in understanding and ultimately, reducing the impact of the disease.
In his comments Dr. Mintzer presented the current state of knowledge about the disease, and how the risk of contracting the disease can be lessened. Lesions created by Amyloid Plaques, the stuff in the brain that is related to the onset of Alzheimer’s, can now be identified 20 to 30 years before the onset of memory loss, providing clinicians with a lot more time to work to remediate the disease. Another dramatic finding is that Alzheimer’s can be reduced in about 1/3 of potential victims with five basic activities:
- Exercise-150 minutes of aerobic exercise and 90 minutes of weight training each week.
- Volunteer– Engage with other people in the community to do good things for others (like join the Exchange Club).
- Diet– Eat healthy foods and keep caloric intake low.
- Sleep– Get 7-8 hours each night so the brain can recharge.
- Be happy– A positive outlook on life has a real impact.
And the single best thing you can do to help prevent the disease? Ballroom Dancing, it’s the best combination of mind and body activity and experience.
What doesn’t appear to work are the brain exercises like those offered by Lumosity, or any dietary supplement available on the market at this time.
Scientists are discovering that it isn’t the lesions that are the cause of Alzheimer’s, instead, it might well be the inflammation around the lesions that’s causing the problem. A treatment called plasmapheresis helps to reduce the inflammation and based on clinical tests, it appears to have a dramatic impact on reducing the incidence and severity of the disease. Roper St. Francis is one of only three centers in the world, along with the University of Pittsburgh and a medical center in Barcelona Spain that have been approved to explore this treatment.
Real progress is being made on the early identification and successful treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, and Roper St. Francis and Dr. Mintzer are at the center of that effort.
Dr. Mintzer has been involved in clinical research on Alzheimer’s disease for the past 20 years. He is also recognized for his expertise in many areas of late-life related psychiatric disorders beyond Alzheimer’s disease. He lectures extensively on the topics of depression, dementia and pharmacological treatment of the elderly around the world.
-Submitted by Thad Peterson