Recently there has been news of a pill that appears to radically slow down the debilitating impact of Alzheimer’s.
This breakthrough will be welcomed by the 850,000 British people living with the disease, as well as the families of patients suffering with Alzheimer’s.
Although still being tested, LMTX was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto and appears to stem the brain’s decline. It could be available on the NHS in as little as four years.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which affects multiple brain functions, including memory.
The exact cause is unknown but there are a number of elements which are thought to possibly increase the risk of developing the condition.
Age is a big factor and it affects an estimated one in 14 people over 65, and one in every six people over the age of 80.
Other causes may include a family history of the condition, previous severe head injuries, as well as lifestyle factors including smoking, obesity and alcohol consumption.
It is a progressive condition with symptoms becoming more and more severe over time. Early red flags are usually minor memory problems, such as forgetting about recent conversations, events or the names of things.
It is a life-limiting illness and on average people with Alzheimer’s disease live for between eight to 10 years after they start to develop symptoms.
There’s no cure for it currently but medication is available that may help relieve some of the symptoms and slow its progress.
Specialist Memory Clinics can not only help manage the symptoms of the disease but can also help provide support for both patients and their families, such as providing adaptations for the home or support groups for carers.
If detected early enough, there are treatments that may help, including cognitive therapy. Some treatments help to keep the brain active as there is evidence to show active minds may be less likely to succumb to Alzheimer’s.
There are also drugs that can slow down the deterioration within the brain and it’s function, although the new LMTX pills will hopefully be much more effective, which is why the medical community has been excited by this latest announcement.
If you’re worried, it’s a good idea to see your GP. If you’re worried about someone else, try to encourage them to make an appointment and perhaps suggest that you go along with them.
There’s no single test that can be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and your doctor will ask questions about any problems you are experiencing and often perform some basic blood tests to rule out other conditions.
The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you could discuss treatment options. As with most conditions, the earlier a diagnosis the better in terms of starting to combat its development and symptoms.
Dr Alexandra Phelan is a working NHS GP and member of the Pharmacy2U Online Doctor service.