/ Cognitive Function Loss
George Pararas-Carayannis, Ph.D.*
from summary prepared under contract for the ReGenesis Medical
Center/ Dec 2000)
I am not a medical doctor. All material provided at this website
is for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to
confirm the information contained herein with other sources.
Patients and consumers should review the information carefully
with their professional health care provider. The information
is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians.
I will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential,
special, exemplary, or other damages arising therefrom.
Loss of memory and
of cognitive function affects people worldwide. Such loss may
be the result of different progressive neurological disorders
of the brain. It affects both men and women and is common in
the elderly. However cognitive decline is not necessarily a function
Memory and Cognitive Function is serious disorder
Memory storage and
cognitive function in the human brain includes mainly the right
and left cerebral hemispheres. Memory loss may range from normal
to a mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, or to a more severe disturbance,
such as dementia. People age 55 to 90 years may have forgetfulness
characterized by MCI, but may not be clinically diagnosed as
having Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease.
Memory / Cognitive (brain) Function, mental slowing and intellectual
Memory loss may be
characterized as the difficulty or failure for immediate or delayed
recall. The first type of memory loss relates to the failure
to recall, within a few seconds, a specific object. Supplementing with acetyl l-carnitine will combat this initial short term memory loss. The second
type relates to failure to recall a specific object, within a
few minutes. Amnesia, is an extreme condition in loss of memory.
It is a disturbance which results in partial or total inability
to recall, altogether, past experiences.
Cognitive function is defined as the intellectual
process by which one becomes aware of, perceives, or comprehends
ideas. Cognitive function embraces the quality of knowing, which
includes all aspects of perception; recognition, conception,
sensing, thinking, reasoning, remembering and imagining. Cognitive
impairment is the difficulty in dealing with or reacting to new
or novel information or situations.
Mental slowing is
the difficulty in processing or completing previously learned
tasks in a timely manner or in processing new information quickly.
Intellectual decline is defined as a loss of information, or
an inability to utilize information previously possessed or utilized
by a person. For example a Parkinson patient may be affected
by intellectual decline and may have difficulty in recognizing
familiar surroundings, or recalling a well known date.
Finally, "aphasia" is
an extreme loss of cognitive ability; it results from a dysfunction
in the dominant hemisphere of the brain and may result in impaired
or total loss of the ability to even speak or write.
Symptoms vary. For
example in severe loss of cognitive function, symptoms may include
difficulty thinking/concentrating, a drop in IQ, episodic memory
loss, episodic memory gaps, amnesia, spells of aphasia, episodic
problems with confusion, problems with fine/gross motor coordination,
or brief dramatic changes in emotional status. Memory gaps and
other cognitive problems may interfere severely with activities
of daily living, such as working, or safe operation of motor
of aging: As the natural process of aging
progresses, humans experience a progressive decline in overall
cognitive (brain) function. This causes loss of ability to store
and retrieve from short-term memory, employ abstract reasoning,
and easily learn new information. Many neurological diseases
directly related to aging, such as Parkinson's, may also contribute
to the loss of memory/cognitive function.
However, research at the University of California at Davis confirms
that cognitive decline is not a normal part of aging for the
majority of elderly people. In fact, only people with high levels
of atherosclerosis or diabetes and also those with the apolipoprotein
E4 gene associated with Alzheimer's disease are both at high
risk for a decline in cognitive ability as they age.
Aging can influence negatively cognitive function in several
ways, including the following:
* Cumulative effect
of free radical damage in the brain over the years
* Decline in the energy output of brain cells.
* Significant decline in the levels of key hormones after the
age of 40
* Diminished oxygen availability to brain cells (due to atherosclerosis
or heart disease, smoking, excessive drinking, drug abuse, limited
exercise, poor diet, or stress)
* Changes in lifestyle, diet, and nutrient absorption (causing
important nutrient deficiencies).
of Parkinson disease:
Parkinson's disease may cause mental slowing, intellectual decline,
cognitive impairment, memory loss, anxiety or depression. These
symptoms, even in mild form, may or may not be a fore-runner
of dementia. Parkinson patients with dementia may have hallucinations,
or delusions, or dis-inhibited behavior ("acting out").
Dementia may or may not be apparent to the patient. Dementia,
however, is invariably apparent to the patient's family, friends,
and associates, as its behavioral effects are easily recognized.
of allergies: Allergies are known to slow down thinking and
create difficulties with memory, attention span and other cognitive
parameters. Many patients with allergies often complain of general
and mental fatigue, decreased motivation, reduction in general
activity, moodiness, increased irritability, feelings of sadness,
slowed thinking, problems with memory, and difficulty sustaining
attention, particularly during the allergy season.
of drugs: Loss of
memory/cognitive function may be provoked or aggravated by medications
(mental slowing has been observed in Parkinson's patients). Adverse
side effects can result from too high or too low a dosage of
medications, unusual reactions to the medications, or from combinations
of medications. This is especially common among the elderly,
particularly those taking numerous drugs.
Also, a large percentage
of patients on the medication known as Leuprolide Acetate, were
reported to have experienced short-term memory loss. A smaller
percentage experienced more severe disturbances in cognitive
function. The symptoms included episodic memory gaps, spells
of aphasia, episodic problems with confusion, and brief dramatic
changes in emotional tone. Women taking a GnRH analogue, also
complained of memory loss, forgetfulness and concentration problems.
Abuses of drugs (legal
or illegal) and of alcohol can also cause mental impairment.
Additionally, excess alcohol consumption causes liver damage,
increasing the risk of liver disease, which often leads to dementia. If you have been abusing drugs or alcohol, seek help at a Rehab in Florida before it’s too late.
of metabolic and neurological disorders - Thyroid dysfunction, anemia , and nutritional
deficiencies, may also contribute to loss of memory/cognitive
function. Nutrient malabsorption has a further negative impact
on mental function. These problems may go undetected in older
people when symptoms are attributed to "simply the aging
process". Multiple sclerosis and normal pressure hydrocephalus
(increased fluid in the brain) are also examples of two neurological
conditions that affect adversely mental function.
of infections - The
human brain is susceptible to viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.
Common pathogens are known to cross the blood brain barrier and
cause cerebral infection, and thus may cause loss of memory/cognitive
from traumatic head injury - Head trauma can result in transient
(concussion) or in long-term mental impairment. A less frequent
type of head trauma in older people, known as subdural hematoma,
can also result in decline of cognitive function. Subdural hematoma,
is the condition of blood leaking into brain cell tissues. This
type of injury can occur after very minimal trauma, and its onset
can be very gradual if the leak is small. Symptoms are headache,
confusion, and lethargy and are often nonspecific.
of toxicity - Exposure
to substances such as carbon monoxide, aluminum, mercury, lead,
cadmium, arsenic, nickel, airborne molds and methyl alcohol cause
changes - Only recently, hormonal changes that accompany
aging , have been clearly identified. for example, a sudden drop
in the hormones estradiol and progesterone, for example, lead
to menopause at about age 50 in women. In addition to symptoms
such as hot flashes, decreased bone density, & vaginal dryness,
symptoms of altered mental function such as mood swings, foggy
thinking, and fatigue are common. In men, testosterone levels
decrease gradually over time, leading to decreased muscle tissue
& bone density, increased abdominal fat & cholesterol,
deteriorating heart function, and psychological & sexual
changes which can impact mental function. In both sexes, the
level of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA-S) falls precipitously
tissue growth (tumors) in the brain can be either primary (originating in the brain itself) or metastatic ("seeds"
of tissue that originated in a tumor in another part of the body, and have crossed the blood-brain-barrier). Metastatic tumors are more common. While approximately 70% of
brain tumors are benign they, nevertheless, contribute to cognitive
- Depression is considered
a normal part of aging. The National Mental Health Association
reports that over 58% of older adults believe that depression
accompanies aging. Depression in older people is often overlooked
because symptoms are confused with those of a medical illness.
However, depression , stress , anxiety and grief are common causes
of memory loss, cognitive impairment, mental slowing or intellectual
Fortunately, these psychological afflictions are often transient and , therefore, the mental impairment they cause is treatable. It's important to remember that just like mental impairments, depression is also treatable. People usually have a hard time recognizing that they have a disease, so they may need help and encouragement from family and friends to go to a doctor and get diagnosed, a prescription for medication may be given at that time to help to control the depression.
Disorders - Circulatory
disorders, such as heart problems, high blood pressure or stroke
can restrict the oxygen available to brain cells by reducing
blood flow. Also, many people who feel fine may have a buildup
of plaque in their arteries (atherosclerosis), which can eventually
limit the oxygen supply to the brain, causing loss of memory/cognitive
of atherosclerosis, diabetes and Alzheimer's : Research at the University of California at
Davis indicates that older people with atherosclerosis or diabetes,
in combination with the apolipoprotein E4 gene (ApoE4 - associated
with Alzheimer's disease), are at much higher risk for memory
loss and cognitive decline as they age.
The studies show that people with high levels of atherosclerosis
were three times more likely to show a loss of function than
those individuals without atherosclerosis.
of the Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS):
Patients with obstructive
sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) ( which includes difficulty sleeping,
sleep fragmentation and nocturnal hypoxemia) have sown short-term
memory and cognitive impairment.
of memory/cognitive loss
Until now, there hasn't
been a clear method for evaluating patients affected with loss
of memory or cognitive function. However, recent studies have
provided new clinical diagnostic criteria to differentiate between
people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), from healthy people
or from those with mild Alzheimer's disease. For example, the
studies have shown that patients with MCI do not experience the
disorientation, general confusion and inability to perform activities
of daily living that are characteristic of Alzheimer's patients.
Also, the studies have shown that people with MCI
may be at increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease at
a rate of 10 percent to 15 percent per year.
Use of the the Mini-Mental
Status Examination (MMSE) and the digit symbol substitution test: There
are numerous tests that assess mental processing, intellectual
functioning, cognitive ability, and memory. The simplest and
most widely used tests for diagnosis of memory loss or cognitive
impairment is the modified mini-mental state exam and the digit
symbol substitution test. These tests help assess short- and
long-term memory, spatial abilities, mental processing speed
and many other related cognitive abilities. The testing includes
having patients recall their date and country of birth, to count
from 1 to 5 and then backwards again, to name specific body parts
such as an arm or leg, to identify an animal that has four legs,
to recognize associations between similar objects and activities,
to recall objects that were shown previously, and to follow simple
directions, such as folding a piece of paper in half.
therapies for memory / cognitive function loss
of published studies substantiate that a decline of memory/cognitive
function can be controlled or even prevented. Some of these studies
demonstrate that prevention can help maintain optimal brain function,
while other studies show measurable benefit in reversing memory/cognitive
impairment caused by normal aging or by a specific disease of
aging, such as stroke.
for patients suffering from loss of memory/cognitive function
include several protocols of treatment, but mainly Intravenous
Glutathione and nutrients that improve circulation to the brain.
Whether a patient suffers from Parkinson's, Alzheimer's or some
other neurological disorder of the brain, these treatments are
very helpful. For example, Glutathione is an important nutrient
and energy source for the brain and acts as a major antioxidant
within each cell in patients with neurological brain disorders,
or other age related diseases.
Since normal aging
also creates a perfusion (circulation) deficit in the brain,
even for healthy people, preventive treatments may include intravenous
parental nutrition, such as Meyer's cocktail, Phosphatidyl serine,
L-Carnitine, and vitamins. Nutrient protocols help improve circulation
to an aging brain . Vitamins (particularly vitamin E) , play
a significant role in slowing the progression from mild cognitive
impairment to Alzheimer's disease.
Also, since there
is a definite relationship between atherosclerosis and diabetes
and loss of memory /cognitive function, treating these disease
with chelation therapy, provides a positive benefit. These treatments
are beneficial in preventing cognitive impairment or even dementia.
of the cause of memory/cognitive loss, such treatments can help
long-term recovery of mental function, as well as in short-term
memory, speech synthesis, concentration, and learning. e:
Summaries on Chronic Illnesses
heart disease | |
stroke | diabetes |
| high blood
| | high cholesterol | | Alzheimer's | |
arthritis | |
| poor circulation | | brain injury | | multiple sclerosis | | cerebral palsy | | life extension | | memory
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