Archive for August, 2011

Pat Summitt is a legendary coach and achiever. She has won more major college basketball games than any other coach in the history of the game. She announced yesterday that she has had memory problems, at least over the past year. Furthermore, she announced that she has a family history of dementia. Her story will hopefully encourage others to seek early assessment and treatment for memory issues. However, the condition she described is not a dementia. Dementia means cognitive impairment that compromises the ability to work and live independently. Ms. Summitt would not be able to continue to coach if she were already demented. Her condition would be more appropriately referred to as a confusional state or forgetfulness. She is still in control of her future and can plan to compensate for memory changes and continue to work. She has […]

Undergoing general anesthesia may cause cognitive decline especially in the elderly. Delirium and postoperative cognitive decline are the two most common untoward effects of surgery. Delirium is transient and obvious but may last days to weeks. Delirium may occur in 10% of postoperative patients. Postoperative cognitive decline is a more long lasting condition, often subtle, and neuropsychological testing is necessary to detect these changes. One recent study estimates that postoperative cognitive decline occurs in 35% of those under 40, 56% of those 40-59, and 69% of those 60 and older at one week after surgery. By three months the rates decline to about 7% in those under 40, 13% in those 40-59, and 24% of those 60 and older. Another study indicated that about 25% of all surgery patients experience postoperative cognitive decline at one week. Fortunately, this rate drops […]

The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference met in Paris in August, 2011. This is an annual meeting that brings out all of the latest research findings. The first results from the Dominant Inherited Alzheimer’s disease study indicated that that there are measurable changes in cognition, biochemistry, and imaging up to 20 years before symptoms appear. These results are based on studies of high risk individuals who are carriers of a mutant gene that induces early onset Alzheimer’s disease that may develop as early as the 30s and 40s. These findings again confirm that Alzheimer’s disease comes on over the course of decades and that treatment approaches must be proactive. If you wait for symptoms, you lose your advantage. New research suggests that traumatic brain injury doubles the risk of dementia. These findings are based on a retrospective study of older (55 […]

Depression has been associated with dementia. For example, the Framingham study followed 949 men and women (average age was 79) for 17 years. There was a 50% increased risk of developing a dementia in those reporting symptoms of depression during the study. Similar findings are evident from the Baltimore Longitudinal study of aging. Depression robs motivation and enjoyment, drives poor self-esteem, adds to the discomfort of pain, and produces social isolation. Depression also distorts memory. In very severe depressions, one is so focused on inner feelings of despair that there are few memory resources left to process information from their surroundings. As if this weren’t enough, people who develop a depression in later life are more at risk of experiencing cognitive decline. There are four explanations for the association of depression and cognitive decline. First, depression is a symptom of […]

What Three Hour Memory Workshop When Monday, August 8, 2011 TBD – All Ages Where (map) Other InfoDr. Beckwith will present a three hour workshop (fee $100 per person/$150 per couple with limited seating) in Naples on August 8 (call 591-6226 to register). « Back to the calendar


The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association have issued a 42 page statement regarding the vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia that was published in the July issue of Stroke. Although Alzheimer’s disease has received the most attention vascular changes make significant contributions to cognitive decline and should be routinely addressed in clinical practice. The statement suggests a new term, “vascular cognitive impairment,” to incorporate the varied cognitive disorders associated with stroke ranging from mild cognitive disorders through dementia. Don’t be confused by the introduction of a new term as accumulating evidence indicates that vascular factors also play a role in neurodegenerative cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease that develops latter in life and the recommendations below apply to all of us. Two criteria are needed to diagnose vascular cognitive impairment: (1) neuropsychological evaluation to demonstrate cognitive […]

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