Can a new test predict Alzheimer’s in middle-age?

dementia.jpgA new study has revealed that apparently healthy adults can already have the brain lesions associated with Alzheimers.

The neurological decline that leads to Alzheimer’s disease may begin in middle-age and can be predicted with a simple to administer test.

The study, a collaboration between Professor David Bunce at Brunel University and a visiting professorial fellow at The Australian National University (ANU) – has revealed that some apparently healthy adults living in the community aged between 44 and 48 years have minute white matter lesions in areas of their brains similar to those found in persons with Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

A further breakthrough generated as part of this research has allowed scientists to more easily predict which individuals may develop these lesions.

The results suggest that the neurological decline thought to lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease may begin much earlier in people’s lives than was originally thought.

“Although we cannot be certain that these middle-aged people will go on to get dementia, the results are important for several reasons,” said Professor Bunce.

“First, the study is one of the first to show that lesions in areas of the brain that deteriorate in dementia are present in some adults aged in their 40s.

“Second, although the presence of the lesions was confirmed through MRI scans, we were able to predict those persons who had them through very simple to administer tests.

“Finally, if the findings are repeated in laboratories elsewhere, the study lays open possibilities for screening, early detection and intervention in healthcare settings. The earlier we can intervene with people vulnerable to eventual dementia, the greater the chances of preventing or delaying the disease onset.”

The researchers’ paper, ‘Cognitive Deficits are associated with Frontal and Temporal Lobe White Matter Lesions in Middle-Aged Adults Living in the Community’ is published in the open-access journal PLoSONE (Public Library of Science-ONE).

A copy of the paper is available at

Colon op the most common for expats says BUPA

Striking differences in the type of healthcare needed by expats around the world were revealed for the first time today by BUPA International, the world’s largest expatriate health insurer.

Colonoscopies topped the league table of the most common procedures carried out on BUPA International’s eight million members worldwide, followed by Caesarean births. Caesareans are most popular in Africa where expats there are 30 percent more likely to have a Caesarean delivery than their counterparts in Europe.

Investigative procedures such as scans are the most common operation in Europe. Expats there have more colonoscopies than those in Africa, Asia and the Middle East combined. Gastroscopies (an examination of the gullet, stomach and small intestines) follow closely behind as the second most common procedure in Europe; however, they are rare elsewhere and do not feature at all in the most popular procedures in the Middle East.

BUPA’s associate medical director Dr Sneh Khemka said: “It’s clear that expats around the world have different health needs. The climate, culture and cuisine of the country they live in is likely to affect their health and well being over time, but these figures show that certain procedures are more common in some parts of the world than others. This could be because of trends in medical practice in the region or it could be down to local factors such as accessibility to specialist hospitals and treatment centres.”

The survey also shows that:

Expats in Africa have more operations to remove their appendix than those in any other region of the world.

Expats in the Middle East have more operations to remove their gall bladder than those in any other region of the world.

Operations to repair a hernia are common in the Middle East but rare everywhere else.

Operations to remove skin lesions and moles are common in most regions of the world.

Operations to remove cataracts feature in the top ten procedures in every region of the world.

Dr Sneh Khemka added: “When you’re living and working abroad having peace of mind about your health and care is a priority. BUPA International offers its members advice on specific health concerns related to the country they are living in, as well as access to multi-lingual health advisers who can provide advice about local healthcare facilities in every region of the world.”

For more information about BUPA International call +44 (0) 1273 323563 or visit < ahref="">