It's no surprise that dementia makes treating other medical conditions more difficult. Dementia patients often have a harder time communicating symptoms and following treatment plans than patients without the condition. And doctors often worry that the underlying condition causing the dementia could be compromising the brain structure itself, making certain treatments risky. Fortunately, there are ways to treat dementia without further harming the brain.
You likely know that aging carries with it an increased risk of stroke, the most common form of which is called an ischemic stroke. This occurs when a blood clot keeps blood from flowing properly to the brain. Such a stroke can of course be deadly and carries a risk of diminished ability to walk or speak for survivors. Doctors typically handle such a stroke by giving patients clot-busting drugs right away, as rapid response is key to more favorable stroke outcomes.
However, doctors have often been hesitant to give these drugs to dementia patients, particularly those with Alzheimer's, fearing that they are more likely to suffer from a brain hemorrhage. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet's Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society wanted to find out if these fears were valid.
For a study published in Neurology, the researchers reviewed data from the Swedish Dementia Registry and the Swedish Stroke Registry for the years 2010 to 2014. They identified 1,300 patients who had been diagnosed with dementia prior to suffering a stroke. They then evaluated the patients who had received the drug treatment and compared them to a control group.
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They confirmed that people under the age of 80 who did not have dementia and were having a stroke received the drugs more often than patients having a stroke who also had dementia. However, beyond the age of 80, the patients received the treatment at the same rate no matter whether or not they had dementia.
Since there was no difference in the rate of complications between the two groups, the researchers were able to conclude that patients with dementia did not suffer from an increased risk of death or other complications from the drugs compared to patients with normal cognitive functioning. The researchers recommended that the drug treatment be considered a valid option for dementia patients.
It's good to know that this is an option if you have a loved one with dementia. But the treatment isn't without risks altogether - those risks just don't increase if you have dementia. Its side effects can still include sudden bleeding in the brain and other complications. So while these drugs might have their place in a life-and-death situation, I'd much rather you take steps to avoid a stroke altogether than just count on these to save the day.
One of my favorite ways to reduce stroke risk is to have my patients take Advanced Natto Formula. Nattokinase is an active enzyme that supports healthy circulation and blood pressure to keep your blood flowing properly. The formula combines natto with l-carnitine to keep your heart cells and your triglyceride levels healthy. As long as you aren't on blood thinners, I think Advanced Natto Formula is a good step toward making sure you never need clot-busting drugs in the wake of a stroke.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD