Doctoring viewing brain scans

Focusing on the treatment of hypertension and hearing loss, instead of the development of high-priced drugs, might be a better way to address Alzheimer’s disease, according to the chairman of the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care.

New drugs, such as crenezumab, which failed to prevent cognitive decline in clinical trials, might not be the best approach to preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease, University of London psychiatrist Gill Livingston, M.D., told the New York Times. Another medication, Aduhelm, has also been problematic because The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services limited coverage of the drug under Medicare.

“It would be great if we had drugs that worked,” Livingston told the newspaper. “But they’re not the only way forward.” 

A recent study in JAMA Neurology, found that 100,000 Alzheimer’s cases in the U.S could have potentially been prevented through better vision care. The study also found that 12 dementia risk factors, including hypertension, smoking, social isolation and low education, could be linked to 62% of dementia cases nationwide. Researchers said those factors could be relatively easy and inexpensive to treat. 

The National Institute of Health estimates more than 6 million Americans — mostly over the age of 65 — have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s. That number is expected to double in the next 25 years. The Biden administration included $290 million to treat Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in its $1.5 trillion spending bill signed into law earlier this spring.