A new study at The University of California suggests that seizures can expedite the onset of Alzheimer’s disease 5 to 7 years earlier in patients who suffer from epilepsies.
Early onset Alzheimer’s disease is a distressing sentence. No one wants the terminal, tragic diagnosis.
Well new research conducted by the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease in San Francisco uncovered that patients with early onset and transient symptoms in early Alzheimer’s disease may also be experiencing seizures. In fact, epilepsy is being connected to early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s occurs as much as 7 years sooner in individuals who endure seizures. And this new information gives researchers insight into developing a cure for the debilitating disease.
According to Keith Vossel, MD, MSc and colleagues at the Gladstone Institute, “Careful identification and treatment of epilepsy in such patients may improve their clinical course.” They further add that “findings add to the mounting evidence that Alzheimer’s disease-related neural network hypersynchrony is an early and potentially treatable component of the disease.”
It’s no secret that the government is on a mission to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. The effects seizures have on the cognitive impairment of the brain helps give insight into finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
Interestingly enough, 55% of the epilepsy and amnestic mild cognitive (MCI) impairment was non-convulsive; meaning that patients suffered from transient—and more minor symptoms— such as deja vu, aphasia and sensory phenomena and spells. Kind of scary when you think of these symptoms as contributing factors of Alzheimer’s disease since they’re such minor health concerns. Although the correlation makes sense when you consider that Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading epidemics in America.
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In fact, the numbers say it all: There are 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and one in eight older Americans suffers from the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. And age only increases the risk. The U.S. is trying to prepare for the Silver Tsunami not only by making Alzheimer’s and dementia a top research priority, but also by preparing the nation for an increased demand of memory care communities.
According to Vossell and colleagues, “Careful identification and treatment of epilepsy in such patients may improve their clinical course,” they wrote, adding that the “findings add to the mounting evidence that Alzheimer’s disease-related neural network hypersynchrony is an early and potentially treatable component of the disease.” Prior studies have shown that 10% to 22% of Alzheimer’s patients develop unprovoked seizures, which have been linked to faster progression and greater cognitive impairment, but many of those patients also suffered from strokes or brain tumors. This is all helping scientists uncover the truth about what causes Alzheimer’s and gives them insight into finding an effective treatment and/or a cure.
Do you have a loved one with a history of seizures who has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s? What do you think about the correlation between the two health conditions? We’d love to hear your comments below.