Perspective on "A Cure for Alzheimer's"

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

Sometimes the facts are very misleading.

For some reason, when Alzheimer's Disease is discussed in the popular press, the discussion often includes a reference to the fact that "there is no cure" for this disease. This is a true statement, but somewhat misleading.

This is misleading because it establishes "a cure" as the appropriate frame of reference for evaluating our ability to fight against this disease.

However, in medicine, we know this is not true. For example, we have no cure for hypertension, but we treat it effectively for most people. Clearly, the "no cure" frame of reference is not the most meaningful perspective on hypertension.

Also, we have no cure for diabetes, but like hypertension, we control it to a large extent for very many years.  We have no cure for the common cold, eczema  asthma, allergies, migraine, anxiety, heartburn, cancer, osteoporosis, depression, lupus  or a thousand other common, and sometimes deadly, medical ailments.  The truth is, cures are very rare in medicine.

To be clear, everyone would love to have a cure for Alzheimer's. It would greatly improve the world and eliminate much tragic suffering  But "no cure" is not the same as "no treatment", and we should not allow the "no cure" label to fill us with pessimism.

In fact, with an early Alzheimer's diagnosis (prior to the dementia stage), doctors can often delay disease progression through a robust regimen of proper diet, physical activity, tight control of chronic conditions, and poly-therapy with approved drugs.

At present, we should not despair that there is no cure. Rather, we should keep searching for a cure while embracing the reality that, like so many other medical conditions, Alzheimer's must be vigilantly diagnosed in its earliest stages and treated to the best of our current abilities.

The cure may or may not come, but initial treatments have arrived, and better treatments will follow.

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