British scientists, in a study published in 2015, have found evidence that the biological seeds of Alzheimer's disease could be passed on through medical procedures - though specialists said the risk of transmission was largely theoretical.
The research found evidence that suggested one of the hallmark proteins of Alzheimer's - that could go on to develop into the brain disease - spread to a group of patients via a now banned form of hormone treatment.
"This was very surprising," said John Collinge, a University College London professor and director of the Prion Unit who led the studies
The growth treatment, using human-derived hormones, is no longer used due to the risk of contamination. But Collinge said studies are now needed into whether other procedures, such as blood transfusions and the repeated use of surgical instruments, pose a risk. He noted that previous experiments on laboratory mice and monkeys have already shown that transmission of the Alzheimer's protein is theoretically possible.
We do need to ask that question. There is evidence from animal studies that it is not implausible.
Experts asked to comment on Collinge's work said it was scientifically intriguing but should not cause undue concern.
Although a very interesting paper, I don't think we need to worry excessively.
Simon Lovestone, a professor of Translational Neuroscience at Oxford University.
"This form of (human growth hormone) treatment stopped 20 years ago and there is no evidence from this paper or any other work I am aware of that any other form of treatment would result in exposure to amyloid," said Masud Husain, an Oxford neurology specialist.
While this is a beautiful piece of investigative medicine, we have to keep the findings in context.
Experts are saying these results do not provide sufficient evidence to believe Alzheimer's disease is a transmissible illness.
Creutzfeld Jacob Disease
In what external experts praised as a landmark study, Collinge and other specialists from the Medical Research Council's Prion Unit discovered the Alzheimer's protein in the brains of seven out of eight patients they studied who had died of Creutzfeld Jacob Disease (CJD), another brain disease.
The patients, aged 36 to 51, had contracted CJD from contaminated growth hormone given to treat growth problems, the researchers said, but autopsies also showed their brains had significant levels of the Alzheimer's protein amyloid-beta. That finding suggested people treated with human growth hormone in the past and currently well may be at risk not only of CJD but also of developing Alzheimer's seeded by an accidental medical transmission of amyloid protein, .
At a briefing in London, Collinge noted that while Alzheimer's is a common disease of the elderly, it is highly unusual to see amyloid deposits in the brains of relatively young people.
"You simply don't see that sort of pathology in this age group," he said.
Human-derived growth hormone has been banned since 1985 after doctors found CJD may spread in contaminated tissues.
Around 450 people worldwide have died of CJD transferred in this way, but patients are now treated with a synthetic hormone which avoids the risk.
Infections and Alzheimer's Link
There are infections that are thought to be linked to Alzheimer's, including oral herpes, pneumonia, and infection with spirochete bacteria. Some researchers believe some common viruses and bacteria could, over the long term, trigger the death of neural tissue. The death of neural tissue could cause a steady decline in memory. The types of viruses and bacteria that could be an issue are the kinds that give us cold sores and gum disease. If this is true, infections could be one of the leading causes of dementia.
At the moment, the leading dementia triggers are genetics, lifestyle, and aging. More people today have cognitive decline, but more people live to longer ages than generations before.
Dementia Leading Reason for Long-Term Health Care
Alzheimer's, one of the biggest forms of dementia, is one of the leading reasons people require long-term health care services. The consequences on families and finances significantly impact lifestyle and legacy.
Adult children often find themselves thrust into the role of being a caregiver, something they were never prepared for or trained for in the first place. These informal, unpaid caregivers must juggle many hats, a career, family responsibilities, including their children, and caregiving for an older parent or family member.
Professional long-term health care services are costly, and those costs are increasing nationwide. The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator says nursing homes average over $100,000 a year. Luckily, most long=term health care is in-home care or assisted living, and those costs are more affordable but still expensive.
Long-Term Care Insurance is comprehensive but cannot be purchased when someone needs care; it must be obtained when a person has relatively good health. Traditional health insurance and Medicare (including supplements) pay a minimum amount of time in a skilled nursing home. Medicaid will pay for long-term health care if the care recipient has little or no income and assets. Most people purchase LTC Insurance coverage in their 50s.
More research is being done on Alzheimer's and dementia, but for the foreseeable future, we need to be prepared for declining health, mobility problems, and aging that cause the need for long-term health care.
About the Author
An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.
Contributor since August 21st, 2017
Long-term health care costs will dramatically change your lifestyle and affect your cash flow. If you become dependent on unpaid and untrained family caregivers, they will face stress, anxiety, and health and financial hardships. You probably don't want to place these burdens on those you love.
The solution for many families is Long-Term Care Insurance. These affordable plans give you guaranteed tax-free benefits to fund your choice of quality care services, including in-home care. Some policies will pay for modifications to your home.
You must, however, get a plan before your health substantially changes. Most people get coverage in their 50s when premiums are lower, their health is better, and the most options are available.
Seek Professional Help Planning for Long-Term Care
Experts recommend seeking the help of a qualified and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you find the right coverage. A specialist will match your age, health, and family history with the right coverage at the right price.
Long-term care is a very specialized area, and few insurance agents and financial advisors have the expertise. Find a specialist who represents the top companies as premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. Leading specialists will often have over 500 clients with Long-Term Care Insurance.
A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.
Planning Tools and Resources Available on LTC NEWS
Planning for the future is never easy, but long-term health care planning can be very complicated and comes with many emotions. Getting the right tools and resources will make the process much easier.
One of the goals is to reduce the stress and anxiety usually placed on your family at the time of crisis. LTC NEWS can be beneficial in providing you with important information for you to consider.
LTC NEWS has put in place several resources, including:
The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator will show you the current and future cost of long-term health care services where you live. Plus, each state has vital state-specific information you should know - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News
The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide is an outstanding read to help you get a good overview of the topic area.
Compare the major insurance companies that offer Long-Term Care Insurance products here - Top Insurers for Long-Term Care Insurance | LTC News.
A detailed tax guide that includes available tax incentives can be found by reviewing the Long-Term Care Tax Benefits Guide.
Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.
Need Help Now for Mom or Dad?
If your family is already in crisis and you need to find help for mom or dad, LTC NEWS can help. We have put together several comprehensive guides to help you in your process.
Start by reading our four guides -
If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea.
Get Assistance in Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim
Many insurance companies have issued Long-Term Care Insurance policies over the years. Filing a claim can sometimes be complicated unless you know what to do or get expert help and assistance.
Don't allow the claim process to stop you from using the benefits available in an LTC policy. Quality care obtained early will help provide a better quality of life and reduce the risk of a deep decline and facility care.
If you need help in starting the process of a Long-Term Care Insurance claim, LTC NEWS can help. LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with a Long-Term Care Insurance policy. We have teamed up with Amada Senior Care, who will do all the work - free with no obligation.
Get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News.
Advantages of Reverse Mortgages
Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance. You might be eligible at younger ages as well.
Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, and even help with cash flow during your retirement.
Learn more by asking questions to an expert. Mike Banner, LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages.
- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.
Be A Guest Contributor for LTC NEWS - Share Your Knowledge
LTC NEWS is open to contributors to share their stories with the world.
You can write a story or ongoing column for LTC NEWS. You can write about many topics, including aging, caregiving, health, lifestyle, retirement planning, and long-term care, to name a few.
Be sure to write for our core target audience of adults aged 40 and older. Our audience is worldwide; however, our primary target is the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and other English-speaking nations.
Improve your website or blog's SEO and gain exposure and traffic at the same time by being a contributor to LTC NEWS.
You can even promote yourself, your business, and your website or blog. However, it must have editorial content exclusive to LTC NEWS and not just an advertisement. It can include links to other sites, and you can share the article link once published on your website or social media.
Your Marketing and Advertising Partner – LTC NEWS
Use LTC NEWS to drive traffic to your website and help you attract people interested in your products and services. Plus, you can improve your website's SEO so more consumers can find you when they search for your products and services.
There are various marketing options available with LTC NEWS. Traditional advertising, sponsored content articles, strategic alliances, and more are available.
Learn more about how LTC NEWS can help you market your business, drive traffic, and improve SEO - Advertise With Us | LTC News.
LTC NEWS offers a 'helpful links' page so readers looking for additional information can find them easily. You can get a dofollow link to your website on LTC NEWS in exchange for a dofollow link on your site.
Let's work together and help consumers who search for us on the web - Site Request | LTC News.
You can also affordably purchase a dofollow link to your website or blog on LTC NEWS. Just contact the advertising department.
Sharing News with LTC NEWS
Include LTC NEWS in your press release distribution. If your group, organization, business, political committee, etc., have news to share, send it to LTC NEWS. Email - email@example.com