LETTER TO THE EDITOR.
Please tell me about the Sundowners dementia. What is it, and are there any treatments for the condition?
Also, is there any kind of surgery to stop the growing process of an extremely enlarged heart?
Sue Gill North Hills, California
"Sundowners" is a term used to describe people who become confused at the end of the day and into the night. It is not a specific disease or diagnosis. Physicians often associate the phenomenon with Alzheimer's disease and other classifications of dementia. Other potential causes include illnesses requiring hospitalization, drug side effects, stroke, seizures, or brain tumor.
Researchers believe that changes in the sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythms) or decreases in sensory input may be linked to the onset of confusion in the late afternoon and evening. Bright night-lights and adding familiar items to strange surroundings may help people stay more alert and oriented as darkness falls. Neurologists, psychiatrists, or internists with experience in geriatric medicine can provide additional insight into specific cases.
You will be interested to hear about an experimental surgery for enlarged hearts now being tested in Australia. Researchers are "wrapping" the heart in a mesh bag, preventing further enlargement. The Dacron-made wrap is pulled over the base of the heart and then stitched into place. Seven patients have undergone the procedure since April 1999, and all are doing well. Thirty patients are being recruited for phase II clinical trials.
Send letters and requests for Information to: Editor, Medical Update, 1100 Waterway Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The Web site for The Saturday Evening Post is www.satevepost.org.
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|Date:||Mar 1, 2001|
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