Alzheimer’s disease affects many older adults: the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple by the year 2030, from 5 million to 15 million people. As our population ages, dementia will become an even more urgent problem, and will take up an even larger percentage of the health care budget. With the development of new medications that slow down the process of dementia, tools that help with the early diagnosis of dementia are essential.
How Amen Clinics Can Help
At Amen Clinics, we have compassion for not only the patients affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, but for their loved ones as well. We understand the pain dementia can cause, and we can help with early diagnosis of decreased brain activity.
SPECT imaging (which stands for single-photon emission computerized tomography) is a special kind of photograph we take of the brain to help us better understand how it works and what is going on inside of it. SPECT can specifically help patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia by:
- Identifying vulnerability to dementia
- Catching dementia early so that treatment may begin before further damage is done
- Helping inform treatment decisions
- Evaluating amnesia
- Seeing how well treatment is working
- Finding out if there are other co-occurring conditions that need treatment
- Increasing treatment compliance by showing pictures of results
- Helping families gain a better understanding of the illness through visuals
SPECT Discoveries in Alzheimer’s Disease
Dr. Amen has made several important discoveries since he first began using SPECT technology. In particular, he has identified several types of dementia, each with its own brain activity pattern; different activity patterns have different responses to treatment. Here are the patterns of brain activity in dementia he has identified:
• Alzheimer's disease
• Vascular dementia
• Frontal temporal lobe dementia
• HIV dementia
• Dementia from depression
• Brain trauma
• Alcoholic or drug dementia
Learn more about SPECT
Frank was a wealthy, well-educated man with a loving wife and family and a busy, active life. However, when he entered his seventies, he began to grow forgetful. At first, it hardly seemed important, since he only forgot small things: where he had left his keys, or the name of a restaurant. But as time went on, the lapses of memory became more serious: Frank forgot where he lived, his wife's name, and even his own name. His wife and children, not understanding the change in behavior, were angry with him for his absent-mindedness, and brought him to see Dr. Amen to see what had happened to the father and husband they loved.
Frank's SPECT study showed a marked suppression of activity across the entire brain, especially in the frontal lobes, the parietal lobes and temporal lobes—a classic Alzheimer's disease pattern. By showing the family these images and pointing out the cause of Frank's forgetfulness, Dr. Amen helped them understand that he was not trying to be annoying, but had a serious medical problem.
Consequently, instead of blaming him for his memory lapses, his family began to show compassion towards him, and they developed strategies to deal more effectively with the problems of living with a person who has Alzheimer's disease. In addition, Dr. Amen placed Frank on new experimental treatments for Alzheimer's disease, which seemed to slow the progression of the illness.
At Amen Clinics, we want to help you learn more about the brain and how to feel better. Call us today at 1-888-564-2700
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