Monday, 29 September 2014

HSV-1 and Alzheimer's disease: more than a hypothesis.

A recent article with this title (also discovered on Alzforum) is summarised here.

Revisiting the link between the Herpes Simplex virus (HSV-1) and Alzheimer's Disease

Regular readers will know that I am very interested in this link.  New readers can find several past posts about the link by putting HSV-1 or herpes into the search box (top left).

I get the weekly newsletter from the excellent Alzforum Network.  For some reason, I searched their database today and found that Professor Ruth Itzhaki, who has done so much to research and publicise the link has very recently published a paper which updates the information that I posted here.

A summary of the new paper can be found here.

There are also some other papers that look interesting.

I never claim to understand all these papers but I think it's still possible to get the gist of them. If you've not come across the discovery of this link you may well be surprised that it is not better known.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Alzheimer's and Parkinson's - an update

The appointment was useful. I was impressed by the specialist. Prior to meeting us he did the usual speed-read of 'the notes' of course (just the notes since the diagnosis when my S was transferred to the care of the Adult Mental Health Team). He started by saying that the AMHT guy we see had noted that my wife has Lewy Bodies Disease (she hasn't - the diagnosis is Alzheimer's). When I queried this he said he thought it best to forget about labels - a man after my own heart.  (But I'll query this with the AMHT.)

He quickly identified that, as suspected, my wife has several Parkinsonism symptoms e.g. rigidity, 'cogwheel' unbending of arms. He thought on balance it was worth trying a very low dose (initially one 12.5/50mg tab a day) of Co-careldopa. I'd told him about my wife's extreme sensitivity towards many drugs. He said that because of the low dose and the short half-life of the drug (2-4 hours) any serious problem would be very unlikely but, obviously, we should stop taking it if there were any problems.

This dose may not produce any improvement but will show if the drug is tolerated and then the dose could be upped later. Someone once told me 'start low and start slow' is a good policy for most drugs you've not taken before.

So, I started today when nothing else is planned.  We have had a short walk so far, about 3/8ths mile.  It was about as good as it gets at the moment  -  we didn't have to stop at all. No adverse effects are apparent.

We will also get a visit from the 'falls team' who might be able to suggest some exercises that could help.

The specialist also mentioned that a Datscan (relatively new) could confirm whether S has some kind of Parkinsonian syndrome but agreed that this would be something of an ordeal for someone with S's problems and that as he could already see the problems she has we could just get on and try to treat them.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

Throughout the 11 or 12 years it took to arrive at a diagnosis of my wife's condition, all sorts of possibilities were examined. Among the diseases mentioned were Lewy Bodies and Parkinson's although they, like all the others that had been mentioned, were finally ruled out and we were left with the diagnosis of last resort - Alzheimer's

The tilt which my wife sometimes has - it can be to the left, the right, backwards and sometimes all of these alternating every few days with 'normal' - was observed by the GP after a fall and he thought that this and some of her hand movements might indicate that she now also had Parkinson's or some Parkinson's-like symptoms (though he didn't exactly share this thought at the time). Anyway, we've ended up with an appointment tomorrow with a doctor who specialises in Parkinson's and apparently has a very good reputation.

The little ray of hope, I suppose, is that whereas the handful of dementia drugs are useless or worse for many people (including my wife) it seems that drugs used in the case of Parkinson's are capable of alleviating some of the physical symptoms quite significantly.

I will try and report any progress here as I'm pretty sure that this will be of interest to some readers.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Two myths about dementia

Two ubiquitous myths about dementia are that, once diagnosed, you can't vote and you can't drive.

These Alzheimer's Society Factsheets explain:

(These factsheets discuss the situation in the UK)