Posted on September 21, 2016

Qatar University Health (QU Health) yesterday held an awareness event on the Alzheimer’s disease to commemorate World Alzheimer’s Awareness Day, and as part of its ongoing commitment to raise community awareness on health issues relevant to Qatar. The event followed the international theme for 2016; “remember me” and engaged students, faculty and staff from across the university as well as community members.

The event program included an open session “Open Mic” during which students shared stories on Alzheimer’s related topics such as poems, excerpts from novels and patient’s family accounts; the screening of the film “Still Alice” (2014) which tells the story of a 50-year-old linguistics professor who is diagnosed with early onset AD; and an exhibition of 14 panels featuring information on AD causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. The exhibition area also featured a “Wall of Memories” on which participants could past sticky note describing a certain personal memory.

The program also included a lecture on “Alzheimer’s Disease: An Overview of Diagnosis and Treatment” by Dr Basim Uthman (pictured), vice chair of neurology and professor of clinical neurology and clinical neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar (WCM-Q), and consultant at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).

Dr Uthman noted that AD is the most common type of neurodegenerative dementias and the sixth most common cause of death in the US. “AD is characterized by an insidious onset of slowly progressive decline in at least two components of cognitive or behavioral domains not explained by other neurologic, psychiatric, or general medical disorders that can interfere with cognition or behavior”, he said, adding, “The decline is associated with functional impairment and interference with normal activities of daily life and the course of the disease is irreversible at the present time.”

QU Health celebrates World 2 [].jpg

He observed that the diagnosis of AD is made on clinical grounds and guidelines regarding exclusion of treatable causes of dementia and confirming the diagnosis of AD does exist. He said: “Brain atrophy is the hallmark of moderate to severe AD seen in autopsies or structural neuroradiological studies. Functional neuroimaging can show changes in earlier stages of the disease. Neuronal death and intracellular and intercellular deposition of amyloidb (Ab) and tau proteins may precede clinical onset by many years, thus allowing for a role of biomarkers in AD diagnosis.”

Dr Uthman explained that while most cases of AD are sporadic, familial predisposition exists and the presence of the APOE4 genotype may be considered a risk factor, though neither sufficient nor necessary, for developing the disease. The lecture was followed by a 30-minute Q&A session in which students fielded questions on issues related to the disease, Alzheimer’s patient care, prevention and other relevant matters.

On the sidelines of the event, a series of activities was held throughout the week. They included an Alzheimer’s awareness social media campaign using the hashtags #StopAlzNow #AlzheimersAwareness, digital-announcement screens on AD related facts and statistics, as well as a wall of memories on which students wrote about a special memory and posted a photo on social media from a special memory with the hashtag for 2016 World Alzheimer’s Awareness Day #rememberme.