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March 7, 2014 by MARCO TORRES
New Study Shows Shocking Under-Reporting of Alzheimer's Disease In Medical Records - Mortality Rates May Be Close To Heart Disease and Cancer

I distinctly recall one of my University professors who specialized in biostatistics, making a strong claim that the mortality rates of Alzheimer's disease where sharply increasing however only the morbidity rates where reflecting this change on official government records. It turns out he was right. A new study suggests that Alzheimer’s disease may contribute to close to as many deaths in the United States as heart disease or cancer. The research is published in the in Neurology.

There are many assumed causes of Alzheimer's Disease. In the last few decades, almost $40 billion has been spent worldwide on trying to develop a breakthrough drug treatment for Alzheimer’s, yet we still don’t have anything that can slow down, let alone stop the disease.

Dr. Rashid Deane’s study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revisited the theory that metals in drinking water potentially contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

Metal toxicants entering the part of the brain that deals with stress and panic have been linked to disorders dealing with the central nervous system.

Some research indicates the disease is more common in regions where levels of aluminum in drinking water are highest.

Researchers in the US have found that of developing Alzheimer's disease. mice given a sugar solution as part of their daily diets showed increased signs

Regardless of the cause, the statistics are not telling us the whole story.

False Statistics

Currently, Alzheimer’s disease falls sixth on the list of leading causes of death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whereas heart disease and cancer are numbers one and two, respectively. These numbers are based on what is reported on death certificates.

“Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are under-reported on death certificates and medical records,” said study author Bryan D. James, PhD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Death certificates often list the immediate cause of death, such as pneumonia, rather than listing dementia as an underlying cause.” James added that attempting to identify a single cause of death does not always capture the reality of the process of dying for most elderly people, as multiple health issues often contribute.

“The estimates generated by our analysis suggest that deaths from Alzheimer’s disease far exceed the numbers reported by the CDC and those listed on death certificates,” said James.

For the study, 2,566 people ages 65 and older received annual testing for dementia. The average age of the participants was 78. The research found that after an average of eight years, 1,090 participants died. A total of 559 participants without dementia at the start of the study developed Alzheimer’s disease. The average time from diagnosis to death was about four years. After death, Alzheimer’s disease was confirmed through autopsy for about 90 percent of those who were clinically diagnosed.

The death rate was more than four times higher after a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in people age 75 to 84 and nearly three times higher in people age 85 and older. More than one-third of all deaths in those age groups were attributable to Alzheimer’s disease.

James said this translates into an estimated 503,400 deaths from Alzheimer’s in the U.S. population over age 75 in 2010, which is five to six times higher than the 83,494 number reported by the CDC based on death certificates.

Prevention Is Key

Professor David Smith, a top dementia expert, states that there are things that can be done to improve the situation right now -- but governments, charities and other research bodies need to make a long overdue switch to a new strategy: preventing the disease.

What is amazing is that nearly all the 40 billion has been spent researching and testing ways to stop just one thing that goes wrong in patients’ brains.

The idea was to develop drugs to block or clear amyloid plaque -- the sticky damaged protein associated with dying neurons. Concentrating on this exclusively -- without even considering any other options -- has condemned millions to a decline that might have been slowed down or prevented.

"How many billions do you have to spend without a result before admitting it’s time to also look elsewhere? What we should have spent some money on is research into prevention. If you can’t reverse the damage, the obvious step is to stop it happening at all," states Professor Smith.

"We know it is possible. In fact, research suggests that a strong commitment to prevention could cut the number of Alzheimer’s victims by 20 percent by 2025."

What we need is a big increase in public funding for research into the prevention of Alzheimer’s.

The Importance of Diet

Over the last few years, hints of a connection between Alzheimer's and lifestyle have emerged, but scientists have become increasingly interested in investigating such a link and are just now beginning to realize that what is good for the heart may also be good for the brain.

One of the key things we need to address is people’s diet.

For instance, switching to a so-called Mediterranean diet -- rich in fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and olive oil -- could have a real impact.

Dr. Newport, a physician who runs a neonatology ward in a Florida hospital, became determined to help her husband, Steve Newport after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Insulin problems prevent brain cells from accepting glucose, their primary fuel...there is an alternative fuel, ketones which the cells easily accept. Ketones are metabolized in the liver after you eat medium chain triglycerides which are found in coconut oil.

After incorporating coconut oil into his diet, Steve Newport began passing specific clock tests designed to help diagnose Alzheimer's patients. He began improving intellectually, emotionally and physically.

Patients with Alzheimer's disease may also benefit by taking an antioxidant called N-acetylcysteine (NAC) according to one study. Dr. John C. Adair of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and colleagues hypothesized that the antioxidant NAC could counteract that damage and improve patients' function.

There are a growing number of Clinicians and Scientists who are convinced that heavy metals play a critical role in the development of several neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's. Metal toxicants entering the part of the brain that deals with stress and panic have been linked to the disease.

Data from France suggests people with higher intakes of vitamin D may be at a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. The highest average intakes of the sunshine vitamin were associated with a 77% decrease in the risk of Alzheimer's, report researchers in the The Journal of Gerontology: Medical Science.

Any action plan can’t just involve drugs -- that is imperative to have large-scale clinical trials of ways to cut your risk of developing Alzheimer’s with improved diet and lifestyle.

Many lifestyle factors linked to heart disease also increase your risk of Alzheimer’s, including high blood pressure, smoking and cholesterol levels.

The heart-healthy benefits of the so-called Mediterranean diet are well known, but new research suggests the eating plan may reduce the risk ofAlzheimer's disease, too.

People who carefully followed the Mediterranean diet -- heavy on fish, fruits and vegetables, monounsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil, and low on meat and dairy products -- had a 40 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's than those who ate the conventional American diet.

Research indicates the disease is also more common in regions of northwest Italy where levels of aluminum in drinking water are highest. When the researchers tested water in regions of northwest Italy in 1998, they found that total aluminum levels -- including monomeric and other types of aluminum -- ranged from 5 to 1,220 micrograms per liter, while monomeric aluminum levels alone ranged from 5 to 300 micrograms per liter. After comparing this data to death rates from Alzheimer's in those regions, the researchers found that the disease was more common in areas with the highest levels of monomeric aluminum.

Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

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