FrankA - new member

Newcomer introductions, personal anecdotes, caregiver issues, lab results, and n=1 experimentation.
FrankA
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FrankA - new member

Postby FrankA » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:37 am

Good morning,

I’m a recently retired professor of computer science and software engineering at Montana Tech. A few months ago, as part of my annual physical, my doctor gave me a standard test for cognitive decline. I scored below the OK threshold, so my doctor sent me to a neuro-psychologist for more through testing. To hours of testing later the diagnosis was “mild cognitive impairment”. Also, my MRI showed atrophy in most of the regions of my brain.

Back to my doctor – subject: would I be willing to start Dr. Bredesen’s ReCODE protocol? – a substantial part of the process would not be covered by my health insurance. But OK, since I’m now looking at fair odds for dying of Alzheimer’s, the decision was a no-brainer. But my doctor didn’t want to start Dr. Bredesen’s tests right away – she wanted to make arrangements to have my lab work done at the same labs that Dr. Bredesen uses. She said it would take more than a month to make these arrangements.

So I’m waiting. Meanwhile, I started to read Dr. Bredesen’s book. I found that a major part of ReCODE was a ketotarian diet. Although my wife and I have a reasonably healthy diet by American standards, going keto would be a big change. I thought I should get started and fine tune my diet if need be when I got the ReCODE lab results. I also increased my weekly physical exercise and started daily cognitive improvement brain training. So far the results appear to be positive, but diet is still a challenge.

In chapter 10, Dr. Bredesen lists the “best responders” to ReCODE. Toward the bottom of the list:

- People who have no brain atrophy on MRI, or whom the atrophy is restricted to the hippocampus.
Tilt! My MRI shows brain atrophy in all except 2 regions!

- People who are younger than 75.
Tilt!

Also, a recent Scientific American article noted that poor sleeping can contribute to cognitive decline. About two years ago I was diagnosed with “severe apnea” and put on a CPAC machine.

What I’m looking for on this web site is other people’s experience with moving to a keto diet. I also like to hear how others are fighting cognitive decline. I'm also interested in discussions about on the science of Alzheimer's

aphorist
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Re: FrankA - new member

Postby aphorist » Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:41 pm

Please post some of historical your lipid results, glucose/diabetes markers, male hormone markers and maybe GGT. When you say atrophy in an MRI, was it against a prior baseline of your own MRI data or against a database cohort?

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KatieS
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Re: FrankA - new member

Postby KatieS » Mon Apr 29, 2019 1:56 pm

While you're waiting for further testing, you might consider if your CPAP treatment is optimized. Have you noticed a marked sleep improvement over the months of starting therapy? Since I've been on CPAP for years now, please feel free to PM me should you have CPAP questions. Depending on the severity of your sleep apnea, recovery can be slow, but might still be ongoing with sustained usage of a well-titrated machine.

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Re: FrankA - new member

Postby Matisse » Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:11 pm

[quote="FrankA"]Good morning,

Also, my MRI showed atrophy in most of the regions of my brain.

Welcome Frank. Did the radiology report say anything about the atrophy as compared to others of your age? Sometimes it will say "age appropriate." As I understand it, some amount of normal atrophy happens with aging.

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Re: FrankA - new member

Postby NF52 » Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:33 pm

FrankA wrote:I’m a recently retired professor of computer science and software engineering at Montana Tech...the diagnosis was “mild cognitive impairment”. Also, my MRI showed atrophy in most of the regions of my brain... Although my wife and I have a reasonably healthy diet by American standards, going keto would be a big change... I also increased my weekly physical exercise and started daily cognitive improvement brain training. So far the results appear to be positive, but diet is still a challenge...About two years ago I was diagnosed with “severe apnea” and put on a CPAC machine.

What I’m looking for on this web site is other people’s experience with moving to a keto diet. I also like to hear how others are fighting cognitive decline. I'm also interested in discussions about on the science of Alzheimer's
Welcome, FrankA

Anyone who has managed to maintain an active career in the field of computer science and software engineering for decades has passed the "cognitive reserve" predictor of delayed progression of Mild Cognitive Impairment with an A+!

You don't mention whether your doctor tested for ApoE 4, but some studies suggest that people who are diagnosed with MCI after the age of 75 are qualitatively different, and may have a slower progression of disease, than those diagnosed in the 65-74 year old range. (Sorry, I can't put my finger on that result right now.) Your post indicates that you have extremely fluent language, reasoning, evaluation and synthesis skills, and that you have executive function skills of planning, organizing, making goals and identifying steps to achieve those goals, measuring task management and viewing information with a schema to decide its validity. All of those would suggest that in spite of delays in what I would guess are primarily processing speed of recall, speed and accuracy of new learning of word or number sequences, and spatial orientation or visual memory for complex figures, you have a rich store of memory and the ability to use multiple regions of your brain to support high level functioning.

One area that you are already supporting is exercise. You may want to try your own version of the protocol used in the study below. People with MCI showed improved verbal fluency after a 12-week program of doing 30 minutes of moderate-intensity treadmill walking 4 times per week. Interestingly, they also showed reduced blood cerebral blood flow.
Dr. Smith explains that for those beginning to experience subtle memory loss, the brain is in "crisis mode" and may try to compensate for the inability to function optimally by increasing cerebral blood flow. While elevated cerebral blood flow is usually considered beneficial to brain function, there is evidence to suggest it may actually be a harbinger of further memory loss in those diagnosed with MCI. The results of the study by Dr. Smith and his team suggest exercise may have the potential to reduce this compensatory blood flow and improve cognitive efficiency in those in the very early stages of Alzheimer's Disease.
UMD study finds exercise benefits brains, changes blood flow in older adults

This recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association:Neurology may give you hope, since it profiles another highly educated professional who, six years after a diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer's disease, is still living a fulfilling life.
Early Awareness of Alzheimer Disease: A Neurologist’s Personal Perspective

As someone who worked with many children and their families affected by traumatic brain injury, I came to believe that "build on strengths to work around weaknesses" was the first commandment. If spatial navigation is difficult, use GPS in the car, on walks, etc. If word recall is sometimes glitchy, use "circumlocation"--talk about the person, the event "You know, our former President" works just as well as "President Obama". "Let's go to that place where we stayed last summer" works just as well as "Let's go back to Sedona". If immediate recall is an issue, use voice memos or make lists. Repeat the gist to people immediately: "Let me see if I got all of that: You're heading out tomorrow for Asheville, and probably won't be back until June due to work." It allows you to "rehearse" the key details and to get corrections. All of us do better with successive repetitions, and if you can figure out what visual or association tricks help your memory even better. If you forget what is on the calendar for next week, put a calendar app on your phone and check the next week's schedule along with today's schedule. (Full disclosure: my husband, who has an encyclopedic memory for books and movies, routinely forgets whether we're babysitting out grandkids this Thursday or next Thursday. Always has; probably always will. Since I have always had a good memory for dates and no memory for movies; we're two halves of a good brain. Sometimes it's okay to stake out the territory you excel at and cede some territory to a spouse, or an app. )

At the age of 67, I am more comfortable also staking out what I am likely able to do with my remaining time, and what I am not. For you that may mean you have the ability to go full in on some of Dr. Bredesen's recommendations, like a 3-hour window of fasting before bedtime and a 12-hour fast between dinner and breakfast, and added healthy fats, more berries, a rainbow variety of veggies, without giving up some foods that hold strong family traditions or personal comfort. Give yourself permission to reach the low-hanging fruit first, and monitor your results both on biomarkers and how you feel. And enjoy life in some way you could not while you were tied to an academic calendar!

Best wishes for continued purpose and joy in life.
4/4 and still an optimist!

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Re: FrankA - new member

Postby Lucy5 » Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:49 pm

Welcome to our community, Frank! I'm glad you found your way here.

As you may already know, there are a number of reasons besides Alzheimer's pathology for brain atrophy, including even the aging process. Your proactive approach to testing and looking for ways to address these changes - regardless of the cause - is impressive and the wise thing to do. While our group is primarily focused on the ApoE4 gene and it's associated risk factors, much of what many of us do to counteract it's impact has broad applicability. If you haven't had a chance to read it as yet, I think you may find our site Primer, written by a member physician, a helpful resource for you. Also, our Wiki How-To-Guide is another resource with tips to navigate our site more easily.
Frank wrote: What I’m looking for on this web site is other people’s experience with moving to a keto diet. I also like to hear how others are fighting cognitive decline. I'm also interested in discussions about on the science of Alzheimer's
While writing this post, I see you've already received some insightful responses from our members, with likely more to come. Another way to find discussions on the topics you're most interested in is to search our forums by accessing the magnifying glass along the upper right of this page. Our Wiki also has some in-depth discussions on areas of interest to you (ketogenic diet, sleep, exercise, etc.).

Looking forward to hearing more about how you're doing along the way, Frank. And please continue to engage and ask questions of the group at any time!
warmly, Lucy

FrankA
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Re: FrankA - new member

Postby FrankA » Tue Apr 30, 2019 10:41 pm

What a wonderful web site! I was particularly impressed by the agreement to treat everyone with courtesy and respect regardless of their opinions. This web site is focused on a specific subject, but I have not found any other sites where such behavior is the norm.

It seems to me that if a bunch of replies pile up I can only respond once - - -

aphorist: no tests yet. Should start testing in a few weeks, hopefully. This was my first MRI. I presume the results were against some established baseline.


KatieS: Since wading into reCODE on my own about two months ago, it appears that my apnea might be improving! I’m not sure what a “well titrated machine” would be. The only thing I’ve adjusted is the pressure. I’ve needed to do this because I have a problem with leaks, especially since with a keto diet I’ve lost a little weight.


NF52: Thank you for your supportive and inspiring comments. Some cognitive tasks now take longer; and I have to keep a lot of notes. Part of my weekly exercise routine is 30 minutes on a treadmill three times a week. I just need to rachet it up to 4 times a week.

Thank you for your advice to use various strategies to short-circuit various mild cognitive deficiencies. I’ve been using some of these, although with a bit of reluctance. With your encouragement I’ll go all out in this area.

I’ve been managing “3/12” pretty well. The “12” part is the easiest since I no longer give a 9am class.


Lucy5: Thank you for your welcome. I’m very excited about finding this web site and its wonderful community. It’s a great example of using the web for social improvement.

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Re: FrankA - new member

Postby mike » Wed May 01, 2019 4:41 pm

FrankA wrote:It seems to me that if a bunch of replies pile up I can only respond once - - -

Frank, by hitting the quotes in the upper right of a post lets you respond to someone such that they will get an email. I then edited all of your post out, except for the part I'm responding to. If you wanted to then add someone else just copy the quotes when editing, and replace the name - below I'll add myself (not sure if I can email myself, but I'll give it a try...) Edit - never got an email...
mike wrote:Hello World

You need to have something between the quotes, or it also will not work. Hit the Preview below the edit window to see what your post will look like, then hit Submit when you like it.
Sonoma Mike
4/4


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