Recent health news has seen an increased focus on Alzheimer's disease and the recommended tools or lifestyle changes people can utilize in order to reduce its risk or slow down its progress. Now, a new report is suggesting that there may be another way to restore cognitive function, albeit in mild cases of Alzheimer's — an anti-epilepsy drug that could work by suppressing seizure-like symptoms in sufferers.
At the present, Alzheimer's disease affects over 5 million Americans and may affect up to 16 million by the year 2050. And in the quest to find a cure for the disease, researchers have mostly centered on removing amyloid and tau protein plaques from patients' brains — it is these plaques, after all, that build up and cause cognitive decline in Alzheimer's sufferers as the disease progresses.
In a new study published in Science Daily, lead researcher Dr. Daniel Press of the Berenson-Allen Center for Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center explained that the above-mentioned research endeavors have not yielded much progress. But in a recently-conducted feasibility study, Press and his colleagues tested an anti-epileptic drug to see how it impacts the brains of people suffering from mild cases of Alzheimer's disease.
Out of the seven people who were able to complete the feasibility study, it was revealed that higher doses of the anti-epilepsy drug levetiracetam were effective in normalizing their electroencephalogram (EEG) profiles. In simpler terms, this meant that the patients had higher brain wave frequencies, a contrast from the "abnormally low" levels observed prior to their taking the drug. Conversely, there were decreases in brain wave frequencies in those whose levels were abnormally high.Press acknowledged that his team's Alzheimer's disease study only covered a small number of patients and that single doses of levetiracetam were not effective in terms of improving cognitive function.
"It's too early to use the drug widely, but we're preparing for a larger, longer study."Earlier this week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a press release detailing three tools that people could utilize to slow cognitive decline and potentially prevent dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. As detailed in the press release, the tools can be described best as "interventions," three simple steps that have been proven to be effective in randomized controlled trials — cognitive training, blood pressure management, and increased physical activity.
Apart from the above study on Alzheimer's disease, the Inquisitr also mentioned a separate study that revealed that extra virgin olive oil could help mice better retain memory and other cognitive functions, which could make this key feature of the highly-recommended Mediterranean diet a possible way for people to reduce their risk of Alzheimer's. Still, it isn't sure whether the same effects would be present in humans once similar tests are conducted.
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