Archive for the ‘Mitochondrial Disease’ Category

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome!

Friday, June 15th, 2018

 

Does histamine control your life?   Are you even aware that it might?  You might have MCAS!!

Much of this information comes from Dr Tania Dempsey and Dr Jill Carnahan in the States….  but it is a Syndrome worth thinking about if you’re simply not getting on top of your pain, allergies, nervous system stresses etc….  Many doctors in Australia are totally unaware of this condition.

What is Mast Cell Activation Syndrome?

Mast cells, a type of blood cell, play an important role in the body’s immune system. They reside in all body tissues and form part of the body’s initial defence system. Mast cells react to foreign bodies and injury by releasing a variety of potent chemical mediators, such as histamine, when activated. In a healthy person these chemicals will act beneficially to protect and heal the body, but in a person with MCAS these same chemicals are inappropriately triggered and released and have a negative effect on the body. Amongst the triggers are a variety of different foods, exercise, chemicals, fragrances and stress. Many sufferers struggle to identify their triggers and continue to discover new triggers for many years after diagnosis.

MCAS forms part of a spectrum of mast cell disorders involving proliferation and/or excessive sensitivity of mast cells, it has been identified since 2007. It features inappropriate mast cell activation with little or no increase in the number of mast cells, unlike in Mastocytosis*.  MCAS causes a wide range of unpleasant, sometimes debilitating, symptoms in any of the different systems of the body, frequently affecting several systems at the same time. The onset of MCAS is often sudden, affecting both children and adults, sometimes in family groups, mimicking many other conditions and presenting a wide-range of different symptoms that can be baffling for both the patient and their physician. Often there are no obvious clinical signs since MCAS confounds the anatomy-based structure underpinning the traditional diagnostic approach. Very often Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is hiding in plain sight.

Mastocystosis:  very rare and NOT what we’re talking about here…

Mastocytosis involves inappropriate mast cell activation AS WELL AS an increased number of mast cells. It is a rare but relatively well known mast cell disorder and is currently easier to diagnose than MCAS.

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS): When Histamine Goes Haywire…

Mast cells are present in most tissues throughout the human body, especially connective tissue, skin, intestinal lining cardiovascular system, nervous system, and reproductive organs. They are part of the allergic response designed to protect us from threat and injury.  When the body is exposed to a perceived threat, the mast cells secrete chemical mediators, such as histamine, interleukins, prostaglandins, cytokines, chemokine and various other chemicals stored in the cytoplasm of the cell.  These chemical messengers produce both local and systemic effects, such as increased permeability of blood vessels (inflammation and swelling), contraction of smooth muscle (stomach cramps and heart palpitations), and increase mucous production (congestion, sneezing, etc).   Historically, we thought of mast cells only in relation to an allergic or anaphylactic response.  We now know they play a profound role in immune activation, development of autoimmunity and many other disorders, such as POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome).  Sadly we are seeing a large increase in patients presenting with mast cell disorders and MCAS.  I believe it is in part do to the onslaught of more pervasive environmental toxins, moulds and chemicals.

Withouts mast cells, we would not be able to heal from a wound.  They protect us from injury and help the body to heal.  Unfortunately, overactive mast cells can cause a variety of serious symptoms.

Symptoms of overactive mast cells may include:

  • skin rashes/hives
  • swelling/oedema
  • flushing
  • asthma
  • itching
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea/vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • heart palpitations
  • anxiety, difficulty concentrating
  • headaches
  • brain fog
  • low blood pressure
  • fatigue

Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) is a condition symptoms involving the skin, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, respiratory, and neurologic systems. It can be classified into primary (clonal proliferation or mastocytosis), secondary (due to a specific stimulus), and idiopathic (no identifiable cause). Proposed criteria for the diagnosis of MCAS included episodic symptoms consistent with mast cell mediator release affecting two or more organ systems with hives, swelling, flushing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, low blood pressure, fainting, heart palpitations, wheezing, red eyes, itching, and/or nasal congestion.  For a diagram of all of the varied symptoms histamine can cause, click here.

Triggers may be medications, foods, supplements, hormones, opioids, stressors (physical or emotional), cold temperature, heat, pressure, noxious odors, chemicals, insect bites, trauma or environmental toxins.

We commonly see mast cell activation syndromes associated with CIRS (chronic inflammatory response syndrome) in response to biotoxins, such as mould, inflammagens, and lyme-related toxins.

Low MSH and Mast Cell Disorders?

As mentioned above, we frequently see histamine intolerance and MCAS in patients with mold-related CIRS (chronic inflammatory response syndrome).  It is interesting to note that a common finding in CIRS is low MSH.  According to this study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, alpha-MSH plays an immunomodulatory role during inflammatory and allergic reactions of the skin.  In addition, there is evidence that MSH induces mast-cell apoptosis(cell death).

Definition of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)

  1. Typical clinical symptoms as listed above
  2. Increase in serum tryptase level or an increase in other mast cell derived mediators, such as histamine or prostaglandins (PGD2), or their urinary metabolites,
  3. Response of symptoms to treatment
Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)

Mast cells can be activated by both direct and indirect mechanisms as a result of exposure of the host to pathogens.

Diseases Associated with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)

  • Allergies and Asthma
  • Autism
  • Autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis,  systemic lupus, multiple sclerosis, bullous pemphigoid, rheumatoid arthritis and others.Eczema
  • Celiac Disease
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • CIRS (chronic inflammatory response syndrome)
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Food Allergy and Intolerances
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • Infertility (mast cells in endometrium may contribute to endometriosis)
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Mood disorders – anxiety, depression, and insomnia
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
  • POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome)
Mast cells are known to be the primary responders in allergic reactions, orchestrating strong responses to minute amounts of allergens. Several recent observations indicate that they may also have a key role in coordinating the early phases of autoimmune diseases, particularly those involving auto-antibodies.

Mast cells are known to be the primary responders in allergic reactions, orchestrating strong responses to minute amounts of allergens. Several recent observations indicate that they may also have a key role in coordinating the early phases of autoimmune diseases, particularly those involving auto-antibodies.

Lab Tests for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) – many of these are as yet unavailable in Australia …  Possibly histamine is as yet the only available, but chat to Georgia about what our Naturopathic Labs can offer….

  • Lab tests specific to mast cell activation for suspected MCAS may include:
    • Serum tryptase (most famous mast cell mediator)
    • Serum chromogranin A
    • Plasma histamine
    • Plasma PGD2 (chilled)
    • Plasma heparin (chilled)
    • Urine for PGD2 (chilled)
    • PGF2a
    • N-methylhistamine
  • Tryptase is the most famous mast cell mediator. Serum tryptase value is usually normal in MCAS patients, but sometimes it is elevated.  Tryptase values that show an increase of 20% + 2 ng/ml above the baseline level are considered diagnostic for MCAS.
  • Chromogranin A is a heat-stable mast cell mediator.  High levels can suggest MCAS, but other sources must first be ruled out, such as heart failure, renal insufficiency, neuroendocrine tumors and proton pump inhibitor (PPI) use.
  • Heparin is a very sensitive and specific marker of mast cell activation.  However, due to its quick metabolism in the body, it is very difficult to measure reliably.
  • N-methylhistamine is usually measured in a 24 hour urine test to account for the variability in release over the course of the day.
  • Prostaglandin D2 is produced by several other cell types, but mast cell release is responsible for the dominant amount found in the body.  PGD2 is less stable than histamine and metabolized completely in 30 minutes.
  • Other less specific mast cell mediators that are sometimes abnormal in MCAS patients include Factor VIII, plasma free norepinephrine, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and interleukin-6.

Treatments to reduce MCAS symptoms and lower histamine

  • H1 Blockers
    1. hydroxyzine, doxepine, diphenhydramine, cetirizine, loratadine, fexofenadine
  • H2 Blockers
    1. Famotidine (Pepcid, Pepcid AC)
    2. Cimetidine (Tagamet, Tagamet HB)
    3. Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Leukotriene inhibitors
    1. Montelukast (Singulair)
    2. Zafirlukast (Accolate)
  • Mast cell stabilizers –
    1. Cromolyn
    2. Ketotifen
    3. Hyroxyurea
  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors – imatinib
  • Natural anti-histamines and mast-cell stabilizers
    • Ascorbic Acid
    • Quercetin
    • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxal-5-phosphate)
    • Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil, krill oil)
    • Alpha Lipoic Acid
    • N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
    • Methylation donors (SAMe, B12, methyl-folate, riboflavin)
  • Certain probiotics decrease histamine production
    • Lactobacillus rhamnosus and bifidobacter species 
  • DAO Enzymes with meals – UmbrelluxDAO
  • Decrease consumption of high histamine foods (more on histamine-restricted diet)
    • Avoid alcoholic beverages
    • Avoid raw and cured sausage products such as salami.
    • Avoid processed or smoked fish products. Use freshly caught seafood instead.
    • Avoid pickles
    • Avoid citrus fruits.
    • Avoid chocolate
    • Avoid nuts
    • Avoid products made with yeast and yeast extracts
    • Avoid soy sauce and fermented soy products
    • Avoid black tea and instant coffee
    • Avoid aged cheese
    • Avoid spinach in large quantities
    • Avoid tomatoes, ketchup and tomato sauces
    • Avoid artificial food colorings & preservatives
    • Avoid certain spices: cinnamon, chili powder, cloves, anise, nutmeg, curry powder, cayenne pepper

References

  1. Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, A Review
  2. Mast cell activation disease: a concise practical guide for diagnostic workup and therapeutic options
  3. Presentation, Diagnosis and Management of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome by Dr. Afrin
  4. Histamine and Gut Immune Mucosal Regulation
  5. Dr. Theoharides presents “Mast Cell Disorders”
  6. Diagram of Histamine Symptoms
  7. Mast Cell Aware
  8. A Tale of Two Syndromes
  9. Mold Histamine Connection

Avoid these ingredients when you’re buying processed foods!

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

We know that processed foods aren’t optimal these days – but did you know they can be harming your health long term?  Here’s just a few ingredients that can cause long-term health issues…  such as immune issues, ADHD, behavioural issues, mitochondrial dysfunction and chronic fatigue.

3 tips for eating well:  1.  Eat organic  2.  Eat fresh  3.  Cut out sugar.

1 – Sodium Benzoate
Sodium benzoate is added to food to prevent the growth of pathogenic microbes, like fungi. A recent study published in 2015 revealed that sodium benzoate caused mutation and cytotoxicity through the formation of micronuclei and chromosome breaks – both characteristics found in cancer cells.  Another study in 2014 linked the intake of sodium benzoate-containing beverages to ADHD-like symptoms in college students.

2 – BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
BHA is used to prevent oils and fats from going rancid and is added to butters and chips. Similar to the results of the sodium benzoate study in 2015, a 2013 study revealed both cytotoxic and DNA fragmentation properties of BHA when used on human cells.  BHA also potentiates the harmful effects of propylparaben, a preservative found in most cosmetics.

3 – MSG (Monosodium glutamate)
Not only is MSG a preservative found in chips and other snacks, it is also used in cooking to enhance the flavor of certain dishes. While the FDA declares MSG as safe to consume, many others disagree and a recent study in 2013 revealed contraindicating results. The study revealed that MSG could cause kidney damage through the formation of kidney stones, along with increasing the levels of serum creatinine.

4 – Artificial Sweeteners
Although artificial sweeteners like aspartame are popular among diabetics and people watching their weight, a 2014 study revealed how people who regularly used AS experienced a sharp spike in glucose levels followed by a lengthy decline after consuming sugary food – a characteristic found in diabetes or other metabolic disorders. The study found out the AS altered the body’s gut bacteria, increasing the number of gut bacteria that fed on AS and have been linked with obesity.

5 – Potassium Bromate
Widely used in bread products, potassium bromate has been linked to tumor formation in the kidneys, abdomen, and thyroid, which is why it is banned in certain places like Canada and Europe.  A more recent study revealed that potassium bromate caused damage and oxidative stress in human red blood cells, causing the cells to lyse or break – which can contribute to numerous immunity disorders and cancers.

6 – High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup found in most carbonated beverages has been linked to a variety of conditions like diabetes, liver disease, and obesity.  Not only is soda a source of empty calories, it can cause diseases as well.

7 – Artificial Coloring (blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5, and yellow 6)
There have been many studies on artificial food coloring and its effects on children, particularly their behavior. Studies in 2009 and 2012 reveal that AFC has effects on hyperactivity in children, as well as links to ADHD.

8 – Acrylamide
Acrylamide isn’t an “ingredient”, per se, but it can be found in certain food products (e.g. French fries, coffee, breakfast cereal) after going through high-heat processing. It also happens to be classified as a probable human carcinogen by the IARC, the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Two studies in 2011 focused on the carcinogenic effects of acrylamide, linking it to prostate cancer and cytotoxicity, a condition that causes cancer.

9 – Sodium Nitrite
Sodium nitrite is popularly used as a preservative in the food industry to prevent the growth of bacteria, prolonging the shelf life of the food product. While it is regarded as safe in small amounts, research has proven that SNT is not completely excreted by the body. About 60 percent remains circulating in the blood, forming nitrogen compounds that damage tissue and cause various diseases.

10 – BPA
It’s not exactly an ingredient… but it sure can end up in your food: Bisphenol A or BPA is used to line the inside of cans used to contain food. While certain canned goods that don’t use other preservatives on this list, the cans themselves can cause food to be contaminated with BPA. BPA is known as an EDC – or endocrine disrupting chemical. Intake of BPA in high doses can cause the body’s hormones to go haywire, which science has indicated can cause obesity and diabetes.  Note that the new “replacement” – BPS – which is sometimes found in products marked “BPA free” may also have problems. In short, you are better off with fresh foods if possible.

Anti-biotics in our food – Anti-biotics causing disease

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Anti-biotics are of huge importance to our health – and disease! Anti-biotics destroy our gut bacteria (as we know) but did you know that between 50 and 80% of anti-biotics in the Western world are in our foods:  pork, beef, chicken, farmed fish and other foods?  Not to mention in our GMO foods that contain anti-bioitics. Hugely linked to all kids health problems. Did you know that Genetically Modified Foods have the anti-biotics, pesticides and herbicides IN the SEEDS, so you CAN’T wash these toxins off!

We end up accidently destroying our immune system each time we eat food that contains anti-biotics.  Is our immune system keeping up with repair and maintenance?

Anti-Biotic use increases hardened, active, bacteria-laden biofilm in our body – and the combination of these are known to be linked to:

  •  cardiovascular disease: bacterial particles (linked to anti-biotic use) is found in the plaque in the arteries in heart disease
  • autism & Asperger’s:  staph & strep bacteria have been found in the basal ganglia of autistic children
  • dementia and Alzheimer’s:  it’s been known for many years that the plaque in the brain has heavy metals, xeno-oestrogens, and bacterial particles
  • diabetes:  the higher the levels of toxins stored in fat mass in the body, the more risk of diabetes.
  • ADHD & learning issues:  there is a huge gut-brain-learning connection.  The worse the gut, the harder it is to stay focussed and learn and concentrate.
  • behavioural problems:  similar issues to ADHD & Learning – behaviour problems, the brain, the gut – all linked
  • chronic fatigue & fibromyalgia: 100% of people with chronic fatigue & fibromyalgia have gut issues, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth & gut issues
  • mitochondrial dysfunction – inability to think, inability to access cellular energy – bacterial particles ‘clog up’ our mechanisms inside our cells and hinder our health
  • and so much more…

Far Infrared Sauna Therapy: detox at New Leaf Wynnum!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

We love our Far Infrared Sauna at New Leaf…. Book into your own private room and enjoy the process 🙂

Save $$$ by buying a 10 pack at New Leaf!!!  3348 6098
healthteam@newleafnaturaltherapies.com.au

Far Infrared Sauna Therapy (F.I.R.S.T.)

Far Infrared (F.I.R.) is a form of radiant heat that gently heats objects directly without heating the surrounding air, like traditional saunas.  Traditional saunas use steam and hot air to heat up the external environment whereas the F.I.R. Saunas heat is a softer and gentler penetrating the skin upto 4 cm in depth thus having an effect on the deep skin layers. As a result blood circulation is increased to the skin cells and increasing repair of damaged capillaries. With an increase of blood supply to the area there is an increase of oxygen and nutrients delivered to the cells and waste products from the cells are carried out creating an overall improvement of skin cell function.

F.I.R. Saunas also has positive results with skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, eczema and general lumps and bumps. The increase in circulation helps to clear blocked pores, release the deeply embedded unwanted debris and infection. Thus as a consequence the sebaceous glands shrink as the skin system is working more efficiently.

F.I.R. Saunas activates adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the skin cells. ATP is the major source of energy for each cell to function. Therefore the more ATP each cell makes allows for the uptake of nutrients and dumping of the waste products out for clearing faster and more effectively. That is, ATP fuels processes within the cells that kill bacteria. Combined with the increase of circulation supports skin repair and recovery from skin disorders such as acne, cystic acne, boils, skin infections and rough dull skin.

F.I.R. Saunas also assist detoxification processes around the body. the toxins in the blood which are usually processed by the liver or kidneys are released through the sweat and out of the body by the increase of circulation. This decreases the impact on the kidneys and liver which frees them up to bereplenished (particularly the liver as it can regenerate itself).

Furthermore F.I.R. Saunas support immunity. With the increase in circulation the body is heated up thus creating an artificial fever which in turn promotes a natural healing response and helps the body to combat any viral or bacterial infections.

In combination with massage F.I.R. Saunas can be beneficial for both detoxification and deep tissue massage. That is, a massage followed by a F.I.R. Saunas will further to support he detoxification processes which have started in the massage. Where is a F.I.R. Saunas followed by a massage will increase the circulation thus allowing the depth of the massage to be more thorough.

Chronic Fatigue, Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Depression, Chronic Pain Conditions – there is help!

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

 

What may all of these conditions have in common?  Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Chronic Pain Conditions are all linked to:

  1. Old infections that haven’t been fully resolved.  The ‘particles’ and ‘byproducts’ of these old infections, staph or strep, e-coli, glandular fever EBV etc etc, live in the tissues in the body and do not show up in regular blood tests.  It is estimated by some researchers that up to 80% of infections live in the biofilm, hidden deep inside the tissues in the body, and create a low-grade inflammation that is hard to shift medically. Depression is an inflammatory process – we simply can’t have depression without brain inflammation – there’s such a huge gut-brain connection that current research is looking at infections crossing the blood-brain barrier and being one of the many causes of depression.  Herbal tonics, nutritionals, chi nei tsang abdominal massage and kinesiology all help the body to break down the biofilm, recognise the infections, and start eliminating these toxins.
  2. Poor nutritional status:  recommended daily allowances of nutrients are ridiculously low (and totally useless) when we have a chronic health condition – of any sort.  Studies done in the 1970’s with Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia showed (40 years ago) that all nutritional needs were higher once we’re stressed, in pain, not sleeping, working too hard, bed-ridden.  So a multi-vitamin or thinking we’re going to get the nutrition from our foods was disproven decades ago.
  3. When we’re unwell, our body goes into ‘crisis mode’.  That is, it starts running survival patterns which override normal day to day activities – digestion, blood pressure, lung activity, muscular function – this is why a cold or flu, or small car accident, or death in the family – can trigger a weird group of symptoms that often aren’t put together as being linked to the initial incident or episode.  We start to put together these parts of your history, so that the medical conditions that have occurred finally make sense.

We specialise in supporting people with chronic health conditions – nutritionally giving the cells what they need, structural balancing to take the pressure of the body, survival pattern kinesiology to allow the body to start healing… and much more.  Our Foundations of Health programme, particularly (which takes 9-18 months), is designed to work through cleansing the major filters of the body – the gut & digestion, the liver, the kidneys and immune systems – which slowly but surely allows all of the individual cells of the body to have better nutritional status, improves detoxification and improves health.

 

Madonna Guy ND
New Leaf Natural Therapies
3348 6098

Mitochondrial Disease

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

New Leaf Notes:

This is a great article about the challenges to do with Mitochondrial Disease.  Unlike the medical profession which looks for a ‘drug’ to correct a cellular imbalance we look at Mitochondrial Disease in the following way:

  • high levels nutrition
  • sensible nutrition based on science and what YOUR body can handle
  • detoxification of cell walls and mitochondria
  • enhancing stem cell production and telomere health
  • dealing with stress and pain symptomatically whilst correcting the underlying causes.
  • doing live blood screenings and bio-impedance screenings to see results / improvement / deterioration so that we can adjust our programme.  Generally inflammation improves, but detoxification can create minor side-effects in the short term

3348 6098

 

Struggle against disease

      By                       Michèle Jedlicka          

  • Andrew and Hilary Fuller frequently face the challenges presented by mitochondrial disease.Andrew and Hilary Fuller frequently face the challenges presented by mitochondrial disease.

This week heralds awareness of two debilitating health issues. Dementia Awareness week began yesterday and World Alzheimer’s Day is on Saturday.

It is also awareness week for a less well-known disease. Global Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week is a time where mitochondrial disease-related organisations from all around the world join forces to promote our joint cause- to find a cure for mitochondrial disease.

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Local resident Andrew Fuller, 72, was diagnosed with a mild form of MD about four years ago, the specialist pinpointing the cause to be the Statin medication he had been taking for his cholesterol. Blood tests profiled a rising item in the results.

Andrew’s wife Hilary said: “Nobody seemed to know what it was until he had a muscle biopsy and they said, ‘This is what it is you’ve got Mitochondrial disease. Mild mitochondrial myopathy.’

“He wakes every morning being sore; his muscles are sore, his forearms, his forearms, his legs. He says it’s a feeling, while there’s tingling with it…but the other part is that the feeling after you’ve had a cramp… an ache that’s left with you with that. Fatigue is the other thing.” Andrew finds he frequently has to rest after breakfast.

He often finds it painful to stand for any length of time, to walk any distance or climb up into tractor cabs.

“He was always a very mobile man,” said Hilary. “He used to play football until he was 60 … gone-so that part of his life has changed completely.”

Mitochondrial disease is a complex genetic mutation when mitochondria within body cells have a predisposition to fail early. Mitochondria are found in all cells except for red blood cells, and convert fuel from food into pure energy called ATP to power cell nuclei and so promote healthy cell function, be it a brain cell, a muscle cell or a nerve cell.

The Australian Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, established in 2009, explains: “Since the high energy organs require so many mitochondria within their cells, they are usually the first to be affected in mitochondrial disease. These include the brain (using 20 per cent of our total energy), nerves, muscles, eyes, ears, heart, bowels, liver, kidney and pancreas.”

Symptoms range widely including dementia, chronic pain, stroke, abdominal and digestive malfunction, blindness or deafness, seizures, neuro-psychiatric disturbances and fatigue and exhaustion which are most common, to name a few.

There is no cure and few effective treatments. The principal rule is ‘energy balance equation’. As rest is mandatory for the mitochondria to ‘catch up’ with body function, Sunday, September 22 is “Stay in Bed Day’, a global event to support those who have to rest to stay on top of MD.

The AMD Foundation states: “Recent research demonstrates that mitochondrial mutations are present in at least one in 250 people and that at least one in 5000 will develop serious illness.” Many are children.

“The woman who’s the powerhouse behind the information phone help-line, has two children, both of which have got mitochondrial disease,” Hilary said. “And the girl has had a number of strokes as a result of her manifestation of the disease and now has dementia…she’s about 12 or 14.”

Dementia Awareness Week is the national flagship week for Alzheimer Australia’s community awareness activities each year. The theme this year is Brain Health: Making the Connections. This theme gives organisations and individuals an opportunity to get involved in promoting brain-healthy lifestyles, promoting early detection and raising awareness of dementia.

The Australian Department for Health and Ageing defines dementia as “an umbrella term describing a syndrome associated with more than 100 different diseases that are characterised by the impairment of brain functions. Although the type and severity of symptoms and their pattern of development varies with the type of dementia, it is usually of gradual onset, progressive in nature and irreversible.

“In 2011, there was an estimated 298,000 people living with dementia in Australia. Among Australians aged 65 and over, almost 1 in 10 (nine per cent) had dementia. And among those aged 85 and over, 3 in 10 (30 per cent) had dementia.

The term Younger Onset Dementia refers to people aged under 65 who are living with dementia. In 2011 there was an estimated 23,900 Australians living with younger onset dementia.

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“Dementia was the third leading cause of death in 2010, with 9003 deaths recorded across Australia. For people aged 65 and over, dementia was the second leading cause of burden of disease and the leading cause of disability burden.”