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Alzheimer's 'may affect brains differently'

21 July 2015 14:40

Holidays can benefit people whatever stage of life they are at

Holidays can benefit people whatever stage of life they are at

African-American Alzheimer's disease sufferers may need different treatments from European-originated white Americans, new research suggests.

This is because scientists have discovered that the disease could impact on the two groups' brains in contrasting ways.

The US study also points to the two groups' future preventative measures being different too.

What is Alzheimer's?

It is the most frequently occurring reason for dementia. In fact, the majority of the UK's 850,000 dementia patients suffer with Alzheimer's disease.

The disease occurs when proteins accumulate in sufferers' brains and develop tangles and plaques.

Peace of mind

One of the most natural ways of relieving stress is a break away. But this can actually increase stress in the case of Alzheimer's sufferers and their carers, if they find it difficult getting tailored travel cover.

This need not be a problem, however, if they take out specific Alzheimer's travel insurance.

What the scientists looked for

In the new study, they assessed:

- tangles in people's brains

- 'Lewy' bodies, which are small protein deposits in the nerve cells

- tissue death or infarcts which are linked to strokes

What the scientists found

They discovered that:

- only around half of European-Americans tested had solely Alzheimer's pathology. The remainder's brains also either had Lewy bodies or infarcts

- fewer than a quarter of African-Americans had solely Alzheimer's pathology. Over seven in 10 of this group (71%) had this trait combined with a different kind of pathology

So what does this mean?

In three words: possible different treatments.

Lisa Barnes, the report's author at the Chicago-based medical centre at Rush University, says the results have key "clinical implications".

Why? Because they may hint at separate Alzheimer's treatments and preventions among African-American sufferers with more mixed disease patterns in their brains, she said.