Conditions and Treatments

Professionals in the Clinical Neuroscience Institute (CNSI) at Premier Health work with Alzheimer’s disease patients every day. This experience matters when you or a loved one is diagnosed with this potentially debilitating disease. We know the latest advances and treatments and put our knowledge to work for you.

Our neurologists, neuropsychiatrists and neuroendocrinologists work with patients at all points of the memory-loss spectrum, from mild memory loss to Alzheimer’s disease.

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, a disorder that destroys memory, thinking and reasoning abilities. The cause of Alzheimer’s is still unknown although researchers are discovering genetic (inherited) links.

The risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease are similar to the risk factors for many other diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. In other words, your blood pressure, cholesterol and low levels of certain vitamins may play roles in your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Early signs of Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Changing mood and personality
  • Getting lost
  • Having trouble keeping track of monthly bills
  • Repeating questions
  • Taking longer to complete daily tasks
  • Using poor judgment

Memory loss doesn’t mean you have Alzheimer’s disease. Conditions including depression, vitamin deficiency and hormone imbalance can cause memory loss. It’s important to have an experienced neurology team evaluate you to determine if you have Alzheimer’s disease. The earlier you are diagnosed with this condition, the earlier you can begin treatment and the more effective treatment may be at controlling your symptoms.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease

Your CNSI team of neurologists provides tests that establish the presence and degree of your memory loss and other symptoms, and determine whether you have Alzheimer’s disease.

Tests include:

  • Blood tests to rule out causes of memory problems such as thyroid disorder
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans to rule out causes such as stroke
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to determine how your brain has changed
  • Neurological tests to diagnose thinking and memory problems
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scans to detect levels of plaques (abnormal clusters of protein, a sign of Alzheimer’s disease) in your brain

Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease

Several medications can temporarily prevent your symptoms from worsening. This can help improve your functioning and quality of life.

Alzheimer’s drugs work with nerve cells that have become disrupted due to the disease. The drugs improve communication among cells to slow disease activity.

The primary drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease are cholinesterase inhibitors. These drugs slow disease progression in the early stages by reducing the destruction of acetylcholine, a key brain chemical.

N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonists (NMDA) are another type of drug used. These help regulate glutamate, a chemical involved in memory, and protect brain cells from destruction.

Research in Alzheimer’s Treatments

Experts are optimistic about the potential of many drugs now being developed to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers are trying to understand what goes wrong in a healthy brain to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Much of the research has focused on beta-amyloid, a component in plaques (abnormal clusters of protein) that form in the brain. Plaques are a primary sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Several clinical trials are investigating drugs and a vaccine that target and destroy beta-amyloid proteins and could stop or alter the disease. These treatments may be many years away but progress toward them gives hope to patients with this disease.

Researchers are investigating the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS) (need to add anchor link) to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. So far, DBS has been used to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease at CNSI, and for a referral to a Premier Health neurologist, call toll free 1 (844) 277-2894(844) 277-2894.