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A new study shows that Americans fear Alzheimer's more than any other disease. In this round table video segment from HuffPost Live, host Janey Varney speaks with Steven Arnold, MD, Director of the Penn Memory Center; Deborah Swiss, a caregiver; and Heather Snyder, Senior Associate Director of Medical and Scientific Relations for the Alzheimer's Association. The segment includes a discussion on Alzheimer's disease that helps shed light on the condition in honor of National Alzheimer's Awareness Month.
Hospitals and imaging centers across the country are starting to adopt a new PET scan technology that aids in diagnosing dementias including Alzheimer’s disease. The scan provides clinicians and researchers with the ability to see beta amyloid plaques in the brain, a major marker in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease that until now could only be seen in an autopsy. This new technology makes it possible for clinicians and researchers to see these plaques in real time. But with a FDA label that limits its use to ruling out Alzheimer’s disease, the Alzheimer’s field is still figuring out its diagnostic value to older adults with cognitive complaints. Now, the medical marketplace will start to shape this value.
More than 300 centers are equipped to perform the scans, but as of now many insurers including Medicare will not cover the several thousand dollar cost of the scans. Another issue surrounding the scans is the emotional effect of revealing the results of these scans to patients and their family members.
On Saturday, November 17 the Alzheimer's Association's Walk to End Alzheimer's took place at Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia. The walk raised awareness and funds for care, support and research of Alzheimer's disease. The Penn Memory Center and Penn's Institute on Aging were present at this year's walk to spread the word on the aging and Alzheimer's-related services, programs and research available at Penn.
On October 27, 2012 Steven Arnold, MD, Director of the Penn Memory Center, presented a lecture titled "New Diagnostic Studies for Mild Cognitive Impairment and Early Alzheimer's Disease" at the First Alzheimer Caribbean Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The conference provided a forum for education and discussion not only for physicians and researchers in the field but also for health care professionals and caregivers. Topics including early diagnosis, cognition and judgment, neuropsychological testing, and non-pharmacological approaches related to Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer's diaseas were discussed, and a question and answer session followed. The Puerto Rico Alzheimer's Association serves the community of Puerto Rico with services and educational programs for patients with Alzheimer's diasease and other types of dementia.
On Monday, November 5 the Penn Memory Center welcomed three visitors who work with the geriatric population at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore at the weekly consensus conference. Pictured from left to right: Ms. Lim Li Ying, Senior Medical Social Worker; Ms. Jesbindar Kaur, RN and Senior Nurse Manager; and Mr. Joseph Cheong Kah Heng, RN.
On October 18, 2012 the radiopharmaceutical substance florbetapir, a component that helps indicate the presence of biomarkers in the brain helpful in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, was approved for use in the radioactive dye Amyvid in Europe by the European Medicines Agency.
Florbetapir is the active substance in Amyvid. Florbetapir functions by binding to beta amyloid plaques in the brain, which have been found to be present in neurodegenerative dementias including Alzheimer’s disease. Amyvid is a solution which, when injected, has the ability to show the presence of beta amyloid plaques in the brain using Positron Emmission Tomography, or PET scans.
Amyvid can be used diagnostically to show plaque density in the brains of adult patients with cognitive impairment who are being evaluated for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive impairment. It can also assist in showing a negative scan, which indicates no plaques and is not consistent with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.