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The Alzheimer's Association, July 14-19, 2012

The Alzheimer's Association International Conference

The annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference was held from June 14 to 19 in Vancouver, Canada, and attracted more than 4,000 participants from around the world, including researchers, dementia specialists, and neurologists. The conference featured the latest advances in Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, with presentations focusing on the identification, prevention, treatment, and management of Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and associated conditions.

"Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) may not be as benign as originally thought, which is why we highlighted it at this year's conference. Most practicing clinicians are not concerned about mild cognitive impairment because it typically doesn't appear to cause immediate health problems," said Dean M. Hartley, Ph.D., director of science initiatives at the Alzheimer's Association.

In one study, Mindy Katz, M.P.H., of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in Bronx, N.Y., and colleagues found a two-fold increase in the risk of mortality associated with MCI, and noted increases up to three-fold in individuals with dementia.

"The investigators evaluated 728 patients, including those with normal cognition, dementia, amnestic MCI, and non-amnestic MCI. The investigators found that those with dementia or amnestic MCI were at a higher risk of mortality. It is not clear if the transition from MCI to dementia is responsible for the increasing mortality rates," Hartley said.

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In the Intelligent Systems for Assessing Aging Change study, Jeffrey Kaye, M.D., of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues used a "smart home" setup to evaluate whether individuals with MCI were at a higher risk of social isolation.

"Over two years the investigators evaluated cognitively-normal individuals and those with MCI and found that individuals with MCI left their homes less often compared to cognitively-normal individuals. This is important because being socially isolated is a risk factor for dementia," Hartley said. "The issue with MCI is that it can complicate other conditions. For example, if a patient is on blood pressure medication for hypertension and forgets to take their medication, this could lead to cardiovascular complications. In addition, patients with MCI and diabetes may have diabetic complications if they forget to take their insulin. It is important that physicians work with patients with MCI to highlight these concerns for family members and monitor the patient's overall health and well-being."

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The conference highlighted a group of papers that suggest that sleep disturbances may have negative consequences on cognitive function. In one study, Elizabeth Devore, Sc.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues evaluated the length of sleep and its relationship to cognitive decline.

"The investigators found that seven hours was considered a normal night's sleep and was not associated with cognitive decline. However, getting five hours per night or less or nine hours per night or more was associated with cognitive decline," Hartley said. "The investigators concluded that getting too little or too much sleep per night was associated with a decline in cognitive function later in life."

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In another study, Kristine Yaffe, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues evaluated the effects of insomnia, sleep apnea, and circadian rhythm on cognitive decline. The investigators found that individuals with sleep apnea had a two-fold higher risk of MCI or dementia. In addition, fragmented sleep or a delayed shift in a person's circadian rhythm was associated with a worse cognitive score and a two-fold higher risk of developing MCI.

"Overall, the development of abnormal sleep patterns appears to be associated with cognitive impairment. Physicians should be aware of this risk and identify these conditions early. It may be possible with early treatment for individuals to lower the risk for cognitive impairment. Although it remains unclear whether changes in sleep patterns impact cognitive impairment or vice versa, there is clearly an association," Hartley said. "Unfortunately, changes in sleep quality or quantity can have an adverse effect, possibly leading to cognitive impairment later in life."

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AAIC: Care Coordination Ups Care of Dementia Patients at Home

THURSDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Care coordination improves quality of care and quality of life in dementia patients living at home, according to a study presented at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 14 to 19 in Vancouver, Canada.

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AAIC: Drinking Patterns Linked to Impaired Cognition

WEDNESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Moderate drinking (seven to 14 drinks per week) early or late in life and binge drinking twice per month or more among older adults seem to correlate with cognitive decline, according to two studies presented at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 14 to 19 in Vancouver, Canada.

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AAIC: IV Immunoglobulin Stabilizes Alzheimer's Symptoms

TUESDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Alzheimer's disease (AD) symptoms stabilize among patients treated with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) for 36 months, according to a small study presented at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 14 to 19 in Vancouver, Canada.

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