One of the most feared effects of Alzheimer's disease is memory loss, but findings of a new research suggest that a combination of broad-based treatments and personalized therapy may just be able to counteract this impact of the neurological disease.
Researchers of a new study published in the journal Aging on June 12 recruited 10 patients with Alzheimer's disease or cognitive impairment to test a 36-point therapeutic program that addresses the patient's diet, sleep, exercise, intake of certain medicines and vitamins and brain stimulation.
After receiving the therapy, all of the patients showed improvements in memory and cognition with some even able to complete tasks that have already become impossible for them to do because of their declining mental abilities.
"The magnitude of the improvement is unprecedented, providing additional objective evidence that this programmatic approach to cognitive decline is highly effective," study researcher Dale Bredesen, from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, and colleagues reported.
The small trial is the first to show that it is possible to reverse memory loss, and the improvements can be sustained, but what made the treatment effective?
The program basically revolves around a combination of certain medication, lifestyle and diet. Treatment also varied for each of the patients. The researchers said that the disease is different in every patient, which calls for personalized approach.
Bredesen and colleagues said that the program they used for reversing memory loss is inspired by the success of combo therapies that treat other chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and HIV and the failures of monotherapies that aim to treat Alzheimer's disease.
An extensive network of molecular interactions that play a role in the development of Alzheimer's likewise suggests that a broader-based therapeutic approach could be more effective.
The researchers said that combining lifestyle and dietary changes with use of the latest medicines is by far the best way to treat Alzheimer's disease.
Healthy lifestyle and diet have long been seen as a potential means to prevent Alzheimer's, which currently affects about 5 million people in the United States.
While earlier studies have mixed results about the impact of exercise, diet and other healthy lifestyle choices in preventing or reversing cognitive decline, experts continue to endorse them because of their potential role in maintaining cognitive health.
Studies have also shown a link between heart health and risk for dementia, and these healthy practices are known to benefit the heart.