The Difference between Alzheimers Disease and Dementia

By Dr. Mehment Oz, c-Michael Roizen | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, July 3, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Difference between Alzheimers Disease and Dementia


Dr. Mehment Oz, c-Michael Roizen, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


Q: My great-aunt can tell me long stories about her childhood but cant remember what day it is. Sometimes she doesnt recognize me when I first see her. Is it Alzheimers or dementia, and whats the difference anyway? Rachel J., Skokie, Ill.

A: Memory loss in old age often comes from Alzheimers in combination with other forms of dementia, such as multi-infarct dementia which is triggered by ministrokes and dementia associated with neurological diseases such as Parkinsons, or with circulatory problems such as atherosclerosis. Alzheimers is implicated in 50 percent of all old-age dementia cases.

Most forms of dementia can be postponed or prevented with smoking cessation and a lifelong commitment to physical activity, healthy food choices and portion sizes, stress management and having friends and a passion in life.

Dementia may be reversed if its due to nutritional deficiencies, like lack of vitamin B12, or from infections, interactions between medications or immune disorders.

Also, dementia associated with cardiovascular problems may be kept from progressing if underlying problems such as high blood pressure are corrected.

Alzheimers may be managed; medications may slow its progression and ease symptoms. Breakthrough treatments may be around the corner!

Diagnostic tools are becoming available. (The Cleveland Clinic Las Vegas Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health has a brain PET scan that can spot telltale buildup of amyloid plaques and nerve tangles characteristic of Alzheimers.) And theres a spinal-fluid check for two proteins (beta amyloid and tau) linked to Alzheimers (its not as effective a diagnostic tool as the PET brain scan).

If you find your great-aunt is developing Alzheimers, see if you can enroll her in a research trial. In the meantime, make sure shes avoiding the five food felons (saturated and trans fats, simple sugars, added syrups and any grain but 100 percent whole grains) and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as walnuts and salmon. The spice turmeric (in yellow mustard) also is brain- protective. Make sure shes getting plenty of rest and enough exercise to keep her blood pressure around 115/75. …

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