Alzheimer’s disease is incurable; at most, its progress can be delayed. Therefore, it is all the more important to prevent people from developing the condition in the first place. But how? Perhaps the answer lies in the intensive treatment of cardiovascular diseases and in tackling diabetes, smoking and high cholesterol levels. Can blood pressure pills really help prevent dementia? That, in essence, is the question being asked by preDIVA, a longterm study on the prevention of dementia through intensive vascular care that is being conducted by the departments of Neurology and General Practice. preDIVA was prompted by the discovery in the late 1990s of a statistical link: elderly dementia patients are more likely to be overweight, to smoke more, to have had less physical exercise in their active years and to have high blood pressure. Though this doesn't prove that these factors cause Alzheimer's, It may open up preventive opportunities.
Deep brain stimulation
People with an obsessive compulsive disorder suffer from intrusive thoughts, which they try to suppress through the constant repetition of sometimes irrational actions. In those patients for whom the standard treatments does not work, deep brain stimulation is often an extremely effective alternative. Two electrodes are implanted in the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain close to the amygdalae. Controlled by a pacemaker, these electrodes deliver small electrical pulses to inhibit brain activity. AMC has considerable experience in treating Parkinson's using this technique, and has recently begun using it on patients suffering from serious depressive disorders who no longer respond to standard therapy. Deep brain stimulation also shows promise for the treatment of some addictions.