Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Pacemaker-Like Devices Help Alzheimer's Patients Slow the Disease's Progression

There's never been a whole lot that medical science could do for Alzheimer's patients. Certain medications might give these folks a brief respite in the progression of the disease, but over time they all knew that they would continue to to deteriorate to the point of total incapacitation. Naturally, no one wants to see this happening to themselves, and everyone who is stricken is looking for that one innovation in treatment that will help them delay the disease the most. While there isn't yet a cure for this type of dementia, a new gadget is offering hope of slowing the progression even more.

Scientists and medical personnel at Johns Hopkins have been experiencing some success by testing the effects of implanting a device similar to a pacemaker in the brain of patients who are actively suffering from the disease which increases brain glucose levels. It has been known for some time that increases in glucose metabolism do lead to brain function improvements. Therefore, patients who have the highest increases in glucose levels do the best at stopping the progression for longer periods of time. Electrodes in the new device stimulate areas of the brain which increases glucose levels. One of the things that Alzheimer's does to the brain is cause a decrease in brain glucose thus inducing the symptoms we all associate with the disease.

Approximately 5.1 million people in the United States are suffering from some level of Alzheimer's, and the numbers continue to rise. Studies into the effects of the pacemaker-like device are promising, and scientists are cautiously optimistic that the new technology will make a real difference in the lives of dementia patients in the future. At the present time, many different research studies are being conducted in an attempt to prevent the advanced symptoms of Alzheimer's. Four new drugs to slow the progression have been approved by the FDA.

The device is still a long way from conclusive testing and FDA approval, but at least there is some hope on the horizon from those who have been viewing Alzheimer's as a tunnel closing in on them. This gadget, when approved, should give patients more options and control of their own lives and help them live more quality years.

It's a scary thought to think about Alzheimer's taking control of your life for you and wondering how or where you're going to get the care you'll need when the time comes. Thank goodness for modern technology and the dedicated researchers who continue to forge into the unknown in order to help those in need.

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