Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New research shows other ways Alzheimer's progresses, with a "flowing" protein; On course to bankrupt Medicare


CNBC (which hosted a GOP presidential debate, however unevenly) has a major article “Alzheimer’s: A Disease on Course to Bankrupt Medicare”, link here. This article has been widely tweeted today.

There is a lot of attention not only to beta-amyloid, but also to “tau”, a “contagious” protein (rather like a prion) that can develop inside neurons and move to other neurons.

There is also work on whether to give people with no symptoms but with a family history of Alzheimer’s (or certain positive diagnostic tests) preventive medication.

I have certainly wondered if the increase in Alzheimer’s is mostly the result of people (especially women) living longer and not dying of cancer and heart disease as early as they did when I was growing up, when extreme disability was often viewed through a personal moral lens.  Everyone dies of something.   But now, with much longer periods of disability at the end of life, social and extended familial support becomes even more important, even though people have fewer children and even attempt marriage at all (although same-sex marriage might actually reverse that a bit).

In the meantime, if people live forever with disability, yes, Medicare will go bankrupt.  You can see the math without doing it.

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