Thursday, July 02, 2015

Dementia books

I went to Hillsborough Public Library, and found these two books:

Graham, N. and Warner, J. (2009). Understanding Alzheimer's Disease and other dementias. Poole, Family Doctor Publications.

The authors are UK based psychiatrists, and the book series is published in association with the BMA.  I liked the warning in the back cover blurb about the perils of information from the web, and there is a bit before the list of useful resources at the end about web searching, which could perhaps do with repeating that advice.   The list of resources looks dated now (after only 6 years), at least one organisation has changed its name, and the UK government website has changed its address.   The book covers what dementia is, symptoms, treatments (I wonder if this has dated too), help, living with dementia, future prospects, a Q and A, and a piece about how the brain works.   There are then pages for the reader to fill in with their personal and health details, and medications.  As the title suggests, it covers Alzheimer's and other types of dementia, even saying brief things about Korsakoff's Syndrome and CJD. 

The Alzheimer's Society are selling this book from their website.  It is not clear if it is a more recent edition, but Amazon are still selling this edition.

Hatzikalminios, C. (2014). Alzheimer's: reduce your risk and revitalise.  Melbourne, Wilkinson.

The author is an American nonfiction writer, rather than a health professional, although she has been a photo researcher for university and medical books.   The publisher is Australian.  I'd be wary of drug information, but although she talks of FDA approval, she does give UK names.  It mentions one drug that the other book says is not recommended by NICE (see below!!).  The layout of the book is clear, and the "prospects for the future" part will potentially be more up to date than Graham and Warner.  There are several boxes talking about pieces of research being done (with some, but not all, detail of who and where published).  There is a "preventing" section, and I wonder about that, however, to be fair the author does say that scientists speculate that the things described might prevent it.  The list of organisations at the end of the book has only one UK based one.

The drug referred to in both books is memantine. A search of NICE Evidence Search (for alzheimer's disease drugs, and then filtered to NICE publications) finds NICE Technology Appraisal Guidance TA217, produced in March 2011.  It updates NICE Technology Appraisal Guidance 111, originally produced in 2006 but updated in 2007 and 2009.  TA217, the 2011 one, says, "memantine is now recommended as an option for managing moderate Alzheimer’s disease for people who cannot take AChE inhibitors, and as an option for managing severe Alzheimer’s disease".

This shows that evidence and advice do change, and an up to date book is a good idea!

The Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme has a list of books on dementia, undated, according to a news item, launched in January 2015.  It covers information and advice, books for carers, books on living with dementia, and books telling personal stories.  I have used this list to help check books in stock at work, to see if there is anything we do not have.   Graham and Warner is on the list.   The scheme is supported by health professionals and public libraries (Hillsborough had copies), and several dementia organisations helped compile this list.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Something I learned during AS level revision - sickle cell anaemia

Not my revision, as such, but helping my elder son revise for his AS level history exams.  One of the things he studied was the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.  And one of the things within that was the role of the Black Panthers in raising awareness and action about sickle cell anaemia (sickle cell disease).

The Black Panthers were set up in 1966 to protect residents of African American neighbourhoods from police brutality.  But they did more than that, including setting up breakfast clubs and other community programmes.

There is more about the Black Panthers in general on Britannica but it does not mention sickle cell anaemia at all.  The pages of information in the Marxists Internet Archive about the Black Panther Party mention it but give no detail.  There is a lot more detail on this page on treatment and political aspects of sickle cell, from the Washington University in St Louis.  Looking at the reference list on the main page suggests this is a course dating back to 2000.  It quotes from Black Panther publications of the time and includes statistics, and details what happened politically.

More recent material includes a book by Alondra Nelson, Body and soul: the Black Panther Party and the fight against medical discrimination, published in 2013 by the University of Minnesota Press.  A Google Books search suggests there are books about the Black Panthers in general that mention their work with regard to sickle cell anaemia - search Google Books for Black Panthers sickle cell.   One, The Black Panther Party: Service to the People Programs, by the Dr Huey P. Newton Foundation, has a chapter in it about the Sickle Cell Anemia Research Foundation, started by the Black Panther Party in 1971.  The book is a preview only, so make friends with a librarian to get the whole thing!

A search of PubMed for just "black panther*" as a phrase finds just five items (searching for the phrase and sickle cell finds nothing).  Four are about the big cat, the fifth does mention the Black Panther Party in the context of education.  A search for Sickle Cell Anemia/history and USA or United States of America/ turns up 45 items, which look interesting, but in a more general way.  Some of them mention the first cases in the USA, and the physicians and patients involved early on.  A search of Google Scholar for sickle cell "black panthers" turns up a number of interesting looking things outside the medical literature, although a quick search of Web of Science reveals nothing.  One of the Google Scholar findings does not mention the Black Panthers in the title and has no abstract in Web of Science.   The article in question (Gary LE. The sickle cell controversy.  Social Work 1974;19(3):263-72) is from 1974 and discusses recent increased federal and state support for sickle cell programmes. I assume Google Scholar indexes the full text, but the full text is subscription only.  There is an abstract in the journal, but it does not mention the Black Panthers.

For current medical information, try NICE Evidence Search, which finds this article in Clinical Knowledge Summaries, among other things.  There is also information in NHS Choices.