ITEMS IN AFP WITH MESH TERM:
ABSTRACT: Family physicians play a key role in assessing and managing patients with Alzheimer's disease and in linking the families of these patients to supportive services within the community. As part of comprehensive management, the family physician may be responsible for coordinating assessments of patient function, cognition, comorbid medical conditions, disorders of mood and emotion, and caregiver status. Suggestions for easily administered and scored assessment tools are provided, and practical tips are given for supporting primary caregivers, thereby increasing efficiency and quality of care for patients with Alzheimer's disease.
ABSTRACT: Dementia is a common disorder among older persons, and projections indicate that the number of patients with dementia in the United States will continue to grow. Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia account for the majority of cases of dementia. After a thorough history and physical examination, including a discussion with other family members, a baseline measurement of cognitive function should be obtained. The Mini-Mental State Examination is the most commonly used instrument to document cognitive impairment. Initial laboratory evaluation includes tests for thyroid-stimulating hormone and vitamin B12 levels. Structural neuroimaging with noncontrast computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging also is recommended. Other testing should be guided by the history and physical examination. Neuropsychologic testing can help determine the extent of cognitive impairment, but it is not recommended on a routine basis. Neuropsychologic testing may be most helpful in situations where screening tests are normal or equivocal, but there remains a high level of concern that the person may be cognitively impaired.
ABSTRACT: As the number of drivers with cognitive impairment increases, family physicians are more likely to become involved in decisions about cessation of driving privileges in older patients. Physicians who care for cognitively impaired older adults should routinely ask about driving status. In patients who continue to drive, physicians should assess pertinent cognitive domains, determine the severity and etiology of the dementia, and screen for risky driving behaviors. Cognitive impairment detected by office-based tests may indicate that the patient is at risk of a motor vehicle crash. Referral for performance-based road testing may further clarify risk and assist in making driving recommendations. Physicians should assist families in the difficult process of driving cessation, including providing information about Web sites and other resources and clarifying the appropriate state regulations. Some states require reporting of specific medical conditions to their departments of motor vehicles.
Aerobic Activity for Cognitive Function - Cochrane for Clinicians
Predicting Delirium in Hospitalized Older Patients - Point-of-Care Guides
American Psychiatric Association Issues a Practice Guideline on Dementia - Special Medical Reports
New Drugs for Alzheimer's Disease - Article
ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease is characterized by degeneration of various structures in the brain, with development of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Deficiencies of acetylcholine and other neurotransmitters also occur. Pharmacologic treatment of the disease generally seeks to correct the histopathology, the biochemical derangements or their effects. The only drugs labeled to date for the treatment of cognitive symptoms in patients with Alzheimer's disease are two cholinesterase inhibitors that prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine in the synapse. Both medications are associated with modest improvements in cognitive function. However, all benefit is lost when these drugs are discontinued; the disease then progresses to the level seen in placebo-treated patients. Tacrine, the first cholinesterase inhibitor to be so labeled, must be taken four times daily and is associated with hepatic toxicity. Donepezil is taken once daily. Side effects of the cholinesterase inhibitors include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which tend to subside after the titration period. Other drugs that have shown some promise in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease are vitamin E, estrogen, selegiline and a mixture of ergoloid mesylates. Anti-inflammatory drugs and nicotine are also being studied for their effects as neuroprotectors or neurotransmitter enhancers. The caregivers of patients with Alzheimer's disease may see little effect from these or other investigational agents, but nursing home placement may be delayed.
Alcoholism in the Elderly - Article
ABSTRACT: Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are common but underrecognized problems among older adults. One third of older alcoholic persons develop a problem with alcohol in later life, while the other two thirds grow older with the medical and psychosocial sequelae of early-onset alcoholism. The common definitions of alcohol abuse and dependence may not apply as readily to older persons who have retired or have few social contacts. Screening instruments can be used by family physicians to identify older patients who have problems related to alcohol. The effects of alcohol may be increased in elderly patients because of pharmacologic changes associated with aging. Interactions between alcohol and drugs, prescription and over-the-counter, may also be more serious in elderly persons. Physiologic changes related to aging can alter the presentation of medical complications of alcoholism. Management of alcohol withdrawal in elderly persons should be closely supervised by a health care professional. Alcohol treatment programs with an elder-specific focus may improve outcomes in some patients.
Cognitive Interventions for Improving Cognitive Function - Cochrane for Clinicians
Update on Subclinical Hyperthyroidism - Article
ABSTRACT: Subclinical hyperthyroidism is defined by low or undetectable serum thyroid-stimulating hormone levels, with normal free thyroxine and total or free triiodothyronine levels. It can be caused by increased endogenous production of thyroid hormone (as in Graves disease or toxic nodular goiter), administration of thyroid hormone for treatment of malignant thyroid disease, or unintentional excessive thyroid hormone therapy. The rate of progression to overt hyperthyroidism is higher in persons who have suppressed thyroid-stimulating hormone levels compared with those who have low but detectable levels. Subclinical hyperthyroidism is associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation in older adults, and with decreased bone mineral density in postmenopausal women; however, the effectiveness of treatment in preventing these conditions is unknown. There is lesser-quality evidence suggesting an association between subclinical hyperthyroidism and other cardiovascular effects, including increased heart rate and left ventricular mass, and increased bone turnover markers. Possible associations between subclinical hyperthyroidism and quality of life parameters, cognition, and increased mortality rates are controversial. Prospective randomized con- trolled trials are needed to address the effects of early treatment on potential morbidities to help determine whether screening should be recommended in the asymptomatic general population.