Alzheimer's: Dr Chris discusses the early signs of condition
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There are around 850,000 individuals in the UK believed to be afflicted by dementia, more than half of which have Alzheimer’s. The condition’s main features are progressive mental decline, which have crippling effects on the brain’s intellectual functions, causing progressive memory loss and confusion. One protein, tramadol 180 50 mg named tau, is found in higher concentrations in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers say it takes as little as one night of disturbed sleep to boost production of the disease-inducing protein.
For their study, researchers at the Uppsala University in Sweden analysed the sleeping patterns of 15 healthy young men with an average age of 22 at a sleep clinic.
Tau levels were measured in the men’s blood before and after they had a full night’s sleep, and following a night of no sleep.
Following one sleepless night, the men had an average of 17 percent increase in tau levels in their blood, compared with a two percent increase after a good night’s sleep.
Tau protein is renowned for its affiliations with a number of different diseases, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
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Two different types of pathology are usually found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients.
Often plaques, consisting of protein fragments called amyloid, are found scattered between nerve cells, preventing them from communicating with one another.
Alternatively, fibres can cause tangles in the cells. These consist of tau protein.
The study is one of many to suggest people with disrupted or irregular sleep patterns are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Jonathan Cedernaes, author of the study, said: “We believe this at least provides an indication that even young individuals should take care of their sleep.”
He went on to suggest that clinical trials should test whether optimising sleep helps to slow or prevent this build-up.
It was also highlighted that, though a lack of sleep has been linked to Alzheimer’s, it could be an early sign of the condition. Further research is therefore needed to confirm the cause of this association.
While the role of tau proteins in Alzheimer’s remains poorly understood, studies have found that they are misfolded and abnormally shaped in the brain of Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Memory loss occurs when brain cells die, and the connection between neurons becomes interrupted.
The condition, however, can start affecting the brain years before onset of cognitive decline.
Scientists urge individuals to seek medical help if they notice memory loss and mood changes at the same time.
An individual will thereafter undergo neurological and mental status exams to determine diagnosis.
Outside of clinical trials, no imaging machinery is yet available through the NHS to track the concentration of tau protein in the brain.
Doctor MacSweeney, neuroradiologist and CEO of Re-cognition Health, said: “the objective is to recognise symptoms and use sophisticated biomarkers to make an accurate diagnosis, up to two years earlier than usually happens.
“As with all medical conditions, new treatments designed to slow progression of disease and symptoms will be most effective when given as early as possible.
“This opportunity is available today in the UK, but only through clinical trials.”
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