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  • Dementia, the loss of the intellectual capacities and the fund of knowledge acquired over a lifetime, is one of the most tragic conditions that can affect individuals and their families.
  • Dementia disorders affect an estimated 4.5 million people in the United States. They increase with age, occurring in nearly half of all Americans 85 and older.
  • It has been projected that the number of cases of dementia in the United States will double to 9 million by 2030 and quadruple to 18 million by 2050.
  • The annual cost of dementia treatment and care in this country is about $100 billion.
  • Each family will spend more than $200,000 in care over the remainder of each patientís lifetime, including direct and indirect treatment costs.
  • The caregiver burden is demanding and requires 69 to 100 hours per week for each patient. Caregivers of patients with dementia have 46 percent more physician visits and require 70 percent more medications.
  • Dementia is an important cause of U.S. mortality, resulting in more than 173,000 deaths in 1995. Dementia has equaled stroke as the third leading cause of mortality in the country after cancer and heart disease.
  • Alzheimerís disease is the most common cause of senile dementia. Stroke is second. The stroke-related form of the disease is called vascular dementia.
  • Dementia occurs six times more often in stroke patients than in the general population. Stroke causes dementia by destroying critical brain areas.
  • The head of the Memory Disorders Center, Gustavo Román, M.D., will serve as the link between dementia researchers and the Health Science Centerís team of neurologists studying stroke.
  • Dr. Román is vastly experienced in treating all types of dementia and in particular vascular dementia, a subject in which he is recognized as a world authority.
  • Stroke also markedly worsens the clinical manifestations of Alzheimerís disease. At least half of the patients with Alzheimerís disease also have vascular brain lesions.
  • Basic knowledge of Alzheimerís disease has increased greatly, including understandings of the genetics of familial forms of Alzheimerís. However, an effective treatment is not yet delineated.
  • In contrast, there are highly effective means of stroke prevention, including high blood pressure treatment, better diabetes control, lowering of cholesterol, appropriate diet, anti-coagulation in atrial fibrillation, use of aspirin and other anti-platelet agents, and surgery for carotid artery narrowing. "By preventing stroke, we can prevent dementia," Dr. Román has written.
  • Dr. Román is joined in the Memory Disorders Clinic by Donald Royall, M.D., board-certified specialist in internal medicine and psychiatry and director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Program in the Medical School.
  • Dr. Royall has received national and international recognition for his research of sensitive neuropsychological tests for the early diagnosis of dementia.
  • The Health Science Centerís School of Nursing will continue its programs of practice, education and research at Villa Serena. Divina Grossman, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, chair of the Department of Chronic Nursing Care, is interested in the chronobiology and alteration of sleep cycle in elderly patients, a field of major interest for Dr. Román as well.