Doctors generally view diagnoses as discrete, well-defined entities. You either have malaria, or you do not. You are pregnant, or you are not. There is no in-between. Settling upon one also rules out the others. For example, if a CT on a patient with a splitting headache shows a brain tumour, that’s the diagnosis.
During the Blitz of World War II, Londoners faced the terror of nightly bombardment that left 43,000 dead and millions homeless. The Nazis expected to destroy morale and force surrender, yet the British chose to fight on and among the people there was a surprising absence of crime and suicide. Not only did the expected panic and despair never materialise, but the people appeared to rise to a new level of unity and resilience.
Alzheimer’s Disease has been blamed on the build-up of two particularly nasty proteins in the brain: beta-amyloid and tau. Amyloid accumulates in plaques outside neurons, while tau twists into tangles inside. These are the characteristic plaques and tangles seen in the post-mortem Alzheimer’s brain.
One in three people living past 85 get Alzheimer’s Disease. There is no cure, and patients are faced with an inexorable decline that nothing can stop but death. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, is one of very few treatments that might alter this grim trajectory.
For the first time in 20 years, the United States FDA has approved a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease, news that brought both celebration and dismay. While patients and families suddenly glimpse hope, many researchers dismiss that hope as illusory.