04 December 2010

Cholesterol On The Brain?

Diabetes, what are you doing to me? The more studies are done, the more questions that are raised. This one, while done with mice, still raises more concerns and questions about what is happening in people with diabetes.

There is so much information that we have to wonder where it will all end. That the brain is packed with cholesterol has to make me wonder what else is affected by diabetes. The brain produces insulin and cholesterol. This study says that this cholesterol synthesis in the brain is derailed in mice with diabetes.

More explanations of the neurologic and cerebral complications that come with diabetes, include cognitive dysfunction, depression, and the increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. This shows that people with diabetes can have many problems with brain functions, and especially if the diabetes is uncontrolled.

The other important issue raised by the study is the effect of statins on the cholesterol in the brain. This has indicated the strong need for science to learn more about the cholesterol metabolism in the brain and what might affect it. This study points out the possible problems for cholesterol-lowering statins that can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause unintended problems for the brain and its function. Previous studies have had conflicting results.

If for no other reason, this points out how unintended results can wreck havoc with our bodies. This has encouraged me to work harder to reduce the number of medications that I am on by increasing my exercise levels, especially with the idea of getting off of statins.

While I have had good management of my blood glucose levels, I can also see the need to monitor them even closer to better manage them.

03 December 2010

We Need to Understand Diabetes Insipidus

I had heard the term some years ago, but never read anything about it, thinking it was diabetes related. It is not. Some of the symptoms, excessive thirst and urination, are similar, but that is where it ends. This also has it's own organization named Diabetes Insipidus Foundation. There are some cases of diabetes insipidus that doctors never diagnose or incorrectly diagnose.

Diabetes insipidus is a problem with possible triggers including kidney disorders, medication side effects, and/or damage to the brain or pituitary gland. Some mild cases do not need medication or treatment; however, the more serious cases require drugs to help the body produce or make better use of anti-diuretic hormones.

Diabetes insipidus (DI) is a condition in which the kidneys are incapable of conserving water as they perform their function of filtering blood. The amount of water conserved is controlled by the anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), also called vasopressin. This is produced in a region of the brain called the hypothalamus. It is then stored and released from the pituitary gland.

There are four types of DI. Central diabetes insipidus is usually caused by damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. This can be the result of surgery, a tumor, an illness (meningitis for example), inflammation or a head injury. All of these can cause a disruption of normal production, storage, and release of ADH.

Nephrogenic DI happens when there is a defect in the kidney's tubules where the water is excreted or reabsorbed. The kidneys are therefore unable to properly respond to AHD and be due to an inherited (genetic) disorder or a chronic kidney disorder. The drugs such as lithium and tetracycline can also cause this.

Gestational DI as the name implies occurs only during pregnancy and when an enzyme made by the placenta destroys ADH in the mother.

Dipsogenic diabetes insipidus also known as primary polydipsia is in general caused by excessive fluid drinking that leads to suppression of ADH. This just amplifies the damage. Diseases like sarcoidosis or mental illness can cause this.

For information on the five tests that can be used to assist in diagnosis, please go to “Diagnostic Tests” here. Continue to explore the site starting here.

01 December 2010

This War Must Be Fought!

Normally I would wait to post this after midnight, but this demands action now!

This war is with the government and our ill advised bureaucracy that is out to kill people with chronic diseases, namely diabetes. This would otherwise be called Medicare. And we all know this means that the insurance companies will follow this lock-step.

For the background of what is going on, please take time to read the post of December 1, 2010 by Lee Dubois. I know others will be writing about this also. Take time to read his blog now and then come back. I know that your blood pressure will go up, and hopefully you remembered to take your medication last night.

It is bad enough that we have to fight for every test strip that we can get and ask our doctors to go to bat for us to get a few extra strips, but to have medicare dictate that we will only be allowed one test strip if you are on oral medications and three if on insulin it totally out of line and could be fatal for some. We all need to test if we think we might be having an episode of hypoglycemia.

What is so frightening is this time your doctor will not be able to argue for you. This will be the rule and no exceptions will be allowed. It is bad enough that these decisions are not up for public comment before being enforced, but to ram this down our throats is totally unconscionable.

Therefore - call the Congressional Switchboard at 1-866-220-0044. If you give them your zip code they’ll connect you with your Senator’s office. Each Senator apparently has a Healthcare Liaison. Give that person an earful. I lifted this from Lee's blog and I hope that this is acceptable because of the need to do this.

I would also suggest that you email your senators at this link and make the subject attention the Healthcare Liaison. In the first sentence get their attention by stating that Medicare has overstepped their boundaries or wording to this effect.

Do this now and don't wait. Also contact any friends that you know might support you and have them do this as well.

Dementia and Its Parts - 3

Now that I have given you some background on Alzheimer's Disease, I want to let your know what a wonder drug Metformin may be. It is being written about more and more in relationship to how Metformin helps with lung cancer, now Alzheimer's, and of course diabetes. This article says that it could be a potential treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

The paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, found that metformin can reduce the amount of the abnormal tau protein in the brains of mice. Healthy nerve cells produce tau; however, in Alzheimer's, the abnormal form is produced and does not function correctly.

The Alzheimer's Society made the following comment - “Previous research has suggested that metformin reduces the risk of dementia in diabetic people.” What is of value is that this drug is already safe for people and can tested more quickly than a new drug. While research will still be necessary to understand the link between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, this is a great piece of news.

The next piece of good news for those facing alzheimer's is the finding that people who are already taking TNF blockers for rheumatoid arthritis may possibly reducing their chances of developing Alzheimer's disease. The study shows that TNF blockers lowers the risk by 55 percent of preventing or stopping the development of Alzheimer's disease.

TNF blockers neutralize a protein called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF) that overproduce in inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. TNF is also elevated in the cerebrospinal fluid of Alzheimer's patients and the higher levels correlate with the progression of the disease.

With both of these drugs, metformin and TNF blockers, this gives more hope for potential help in slowing or even stopping the progression of Alzheimer's.

This is the final in this series. More may be available in future studies.

30 November 2010

Dementia and Its Parts - 2

Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is often difficult to separate from others at the start. The exact causes are still unknown. This is being studied very intensively and some of the
suspected causes include diseased genes, abnormal protein buildup in the brain, and environmental toxins. Now there is a link to diabetes and some identified proteins and a possible link to lack of insulin production by the brain.

The brain changes that occur with AD are the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain that affect memory, thinking, and judgment are damaged. This interrupts the passage of messages between cells by chemicals called neurotransmitters. One specific neurotransmitter is absent in people with AD. The cortex (thinking center) of the brain shrinks (atrophies). This causes a decrease on surface area, which plays a role in how well a person can think and function.

The spaces in the center of the brain (ventricles) become enlarged and the neurons develop specific changes that are key indicators of the disease as seen on autopsy after death. These nerve cell changes are called neurotic plaques (abnormal patches) and neurofibrillary (nerve fiber) tangles. The Diabetic Guy writes about this here.

There is no single test for AD. The Alzheimer's Association has a list of ten warning signs of Alzheimer's. Read them here. AD can only be positively diagnosed by examining a small piece of brain tissue after death (autopsy). The number and concentration of plaques and tangles in the short-term memory center of the brain confirm diagnosis. At present there is no specific medical treatment for AD.

A little history, please. Dr. Alois Alzheimer detected signs of the brain disease that is now named after him. Like so many doctors, he thought many patients had mental health problems or mental illness. During the autopsy, he found dense deposits outside and around the brain nerve cells in the brain of a patient. The deposits are now called neurotic plaques and the tangles inside the cells are twisted nerve fibers.

Today this still a lot to be learned about AD, but progress is being made with more and more information being made available every year. This has been a hard topic for me to face and still concerns me. I am starting to study it more carefully, as my risks are greater for several of the reasons. Age, having diabetes and several other indicators all raise concerns.

This is part two of three parts.

29 November 2010

Dementia and Its Parts - 1

This is a lot more complex than I thought. I have written about Alzheimer's and diabetes, but much of the reading has been fairly straight forward. Then I noticed in researching this that alzheimer's and dementia were being used almost interchangeably which did not make total sense. This was to to be about Metformin and TNF blockers and their effects on Alzheimer's, but that will need to wait for some groundwork. And this is important as about 50 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are at risk for Alzheimer's.

I am relying on resources and knowledge of my wife from her books and work to clarify the relationship. I know it is enlightening for me and hopefully will help you in your understanding. So this may be in several parts and may not all relate to diabetes, but if I understand things, I am hoping that I will be able to show some of the relationships.

Dementia is not a disease itself, but a group of symptoms. Dementia encompasses many disorders. First dementia is divided into two groups – those that are reversible and those that are irreversible. Reversible can be considered temporary. The following are potentially reversible – intoxication, affective mood disorders, infections, nutritional disorders, metabolic disorders, vascular disorders, head injuries, and brain tumors.

The other causes of dementia are irreversible or permanent. This is the group that I am focusing on. Included are Alzheimer's Disease (AD), Multi-Infarct Dementia (MID), Parkinson's Disease (PD), Huntington's Disease, Creutzfeldt – Jakob Disease (CJD), and Picks Disease. It is Alzheimer's Disease that I will be concentrating on because of the link to diabetes.

AD is the most common cause of dementia disorders affecting possibly 4.5 million Americans. It progresses gradually and results in total disability and death. The rate of progression varies among individuals and is most common in people over the age of 65. It affects more women than men.

AD is a brain disease and not normal aging. Symptoms of AD may vary from a pattern of gradual decline to fast deterioration. From the first recognized symptoms, the life span can range from three to 20 or more years.

The symptoms include gradual memory loss, decline in ability to perform routine tasks, disorientation to time and place, impaired judgment, personality change, difficulty in learning, and loss of language and communication skills. These symptoms lead to wandering, sundowning, hallucinations, delusions, disorientation, and poor judgment.

Understand that many people use the overall term of dementia when talking about any of the disorders and diseases. This makes it easier for them to accept what is happening and they are not referring to the disease itself as in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and others.

For more information on Alzheimer's, check out their web site here.

This is the end of part one of three parts.