CHENNAI: When we hear of a singer who needs a teleprompter for a song he has sung for decades or an employee who forgets the name of a colleague of many years they may just be suffering from a cognitive impairment although showing no other symptom but a lack of memory, said Ronald C Peterson, head, Mayo Clinic for Alzheimer’s Disease, Minnesota.
“We are moving towards early identification of Alzheimer’s,” he said at the 36th T S Srinivasan Endowment Oration on “Forgetful Brain”.
Alzheimer’s, a type of dementia in which the brain shrinks because of the gradual death of brain cells, takes one by surprise many a time and causes death. This, he asserted, is caused by the malfunctioning of two substances called Amyloid and Tau proteins. “When these proteins affect the memory and the reading part of the brain, those respective areas start losing the functions,” he said.
Asia, he predicted, is to see quadruple number of cases in the next 20 years if it carries on along the trend line it now has. “Early intervention is necessary,” he said, stating that Indian doctors have the clinical expertise to diagnose Alzheimer with 90 per cent accuracy. “We must look for the early symptoms before the brain condition degenerates,” he says. The solution, he adds, lies in modern medical techniques such as structural MRI, Tau PET scans and Amyloid PET scans which are revolutionary in tracing out the condition which often goes unnoticed until it is too late.
Effects of Alzheimer’s or any type of dementia can be controlled and minimised by exercises and therapy.