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Dementia and Its Controversial Treatment

Dementia is a progressive decline in cognitive ability, an ailment commonly thought to be inseparable from the concept of the elderly. Dementia causes people to lose practical skills and the ability to perform everyday activities. According to the World Health Organisation, as of 2018, 47.5 million people have been diagnosed with dementia (2020). Nearly 8 million new cases of the disease are reported each year. WHO experts state that dementia is one of the leading causes of disability among older people and fear that by 2050 the number of people suffering from the condition will reach 115 million (2020). Dementia does not always occur in old age. If it does, it is called senile dementia. It is also commonly referred to as senile marasmus, but this is not the correct medical term.

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Alzheimer’s disease causes the most rapidly progressive dementia. This disease is caused by organic changes of an atrophic nature in the brain tissue and the sudden acceleration of the natural degenerative processes. The causes and exact mechanisms of dementia are not yet fully understood by modern science. What is known is that the disease leads to the accumulation of certain classes of amino acids in neurons that block the transport processes, disrupt inter-neuronal connections and lead to massive death of nerve cells. This disease leads not just to irreversible dementia but also the death of the patient. Most Alzheimer’s patients do not live more than seven years after diagnosis.

According to BBC News, in general, no reliable treatment has yet been developed for dementia (2019). This is especially true for the type of pathology caused by Alzheimer’s disease. The BBC gives recommendations for preventing and delaying the progression of the disease and stresses the fact that the problem of dementia in the elderly is now very acute. When dementia is of a vascular or alcoholic genesis, the primary treatment efforts should be directed at the underlying pathology of which it is a consequence. The main areas of therapy include psychotherapy, social therapy, and pharmacotherapy. In vascular and atherosclerotic dementia, drugs that improve cerebral blood flow and vascular tone, nootropic drugs, metabolic stimulants, vitamin complexes, glycine may be taken. However, these may only be effective in the early stages of the disease. Dopamine receptor stimulants, phosphatidylcholine, memantine, and acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are prescribed for Alzheimer’s disease (Arvanitakis et al., 2019). Tranquillizers, neuroleptics, and antidepressants may also be used to treat related conditions such as psychosis and depression.

Additional therapies include exercise therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Diet is also important – the patient must get the micronutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants needed for brain function. However, some pretty counter-active therapies have not been tried and tested by international scientists. For example, some private clinics offer pulse therapy as an alternative method of treatment. These clinics claim that pulse therapy acts on the brain’s control centers, restoring the nervous system and eliminating mental aberrations and pathologies. It triggers the powerful restoration mechanisms of the nervous system and normalizes the functioning of the damaged organs and structures. The disease recedes quickly, and the risk of recurrence is reduced to zero. This treatment should quickly eliminate the clinical symptoms of the disease, localize the lesions and reduce the doses of medication. However, this method of treatment is not scientific or approved in the scientific community. It is not on the list of indications for treatment from the World Health Organization. This method has likely emerged because clinics want to make money from gullible people desperate to find a cure.

Another controversial treatment for dementia is dietary supplements. Manufacturers claim that miracle pills use natural ingredients to treat the condition. However, dementia cannot be cured; the medication can only slow down the process. However, the list of certified medicines for the treatment of dementia does not include dietary supplements. This is because BAAs are not medical products. Another problem is that such supplements are not tested for hazardous substances, so they are not certified as medicines. Among the biggest threats are inadequate testing for compatibility with different human characteristics and a lack of awareness of the dangers of taking them. Since dementia is a complex disease with no recognized treatment yet, taking the wrong drugs in uncontrolled dosages is a significant threat.

People’s interest in this treatment method is most likely due to the general public’s fondness for BAAs. They are perceived as natural healing pills that can help with everything. However, people forget that in order to treat life-threatening and complex diseases, one has to turn exclusively to evidence-based medicine. Unfortunately, dementia is not blogged about and is rarely mentioned in the media. This is because there is little public interest in the topic, as everyone is sure it cannot happen to them. However, it is essential to remember that diseases can happen at the most unexpected moment. One needs to be well versed in the subject to avoid falling into the trap of ineffective and controversial treatments.

References

Arvanitakis, Z., Shah, R. C., & Bennett, D. A. (2019). Diagnosis and management of dementia: Review. JAMA, 322(16), 1589–1599. 10.1001/jama.2019.4782

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BBC News. (2019). Dementia: The greatest health challenge of our time. BBC News.

World Health Organisation. (2020). Dementia. World Health Organisation.

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