Keeping a “cool head” not good for Alzheimers patients

May 20, 2009 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

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brain1I remember a food ad a long, long time ago which went like this: Keep cool but don’t freeze. In fact, keeping your cool is very important in our present day stressful society. But this isn’t seem to be the case in some people. In fact, a literarily cool head may actually be detrimental to your health especially if you have Alzheimer’s disease.

A research study published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal shows that the “tau” proteins which forms the characteristic clumps in an Alzheimer brain actually multiply much faster when the temperatures are low. In addition, the same bad proteins also builds up faster when a patient in under anesthesia.

The researchers performe dhre study in laboratory mice genetically designed to produce tau proteins. One group of mice was anesthesized and the other group not. The amount of protein accumulated in the brain were compared before anesthesia and one week after.

The anesthetized group had more of these clumps than the group that was not anesthetized. Furthermore, in mice showing advanced signs of the disease, the build up of tau proteins occurred faster than in those in the early stages.

The results of the  study has some clinical implications, namely:

  • Care should be taken when putting a patient with Alzheimer’s disease under anesthesia during medical interventions. However, even local anesthesia during dental surgery needs also to be reexamined.
  • Care should also be taken that Alzheimer’s patients are not exposed to extreme cold temperature as hypothermia can hasten the damage to the brain. This is especially important considering that Alzheimer’s patients tend to be disoriented and may not be capable of taking care of themselves, including putting on protective clothing in the wintertime.

According to Dr. Gerald Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of journal

“Every patient wants a surgeon with a cool headbut surgeons might not want the same for their patients. People are anesthetized for all kinds of reasons, even dental work, but this study really should make patients and doctors reconsider whether it’s really necessary.”

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