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Alzheimer's Disease

Toxic Metals and Dementia

02/21/2005

Question:

Do toxic metals especially lead, manganese, arsenic and uranium contribute to dementia and interfere with medications given to treat dementia? My father has been diagnosed with first Parkinson's, lewy body and the latest being mini strokes. He`s very lethargic, combative and agitated and no doctor seems to know why he`s not responding well to the medications. They are unwilling to take the metals into consideration. When his medications are increased, he sleeps even more and almost died when they gave him Ativan which really relaxed him to the point where his tongue rolled back in his throat and blocked his air passage. They were lucky that he responded to another drug that reversed the Ativan.

My dad continues to lose weight and is at 119 lbs. He seems not to be absorbing the nutrition in the food but eats well. He just had a swallowing test done and is now on a pureed diet with honey-like liquids. I have tried to find a doctor in the Philadelphia area who is familiar with dementia and other contributing factors in the elderly. My dad is 81. I believe that a person should be treated as whole, taking everything into consideration and doctors should be looking for other physical illnesses as well when treating dementia. Thank you for your time.

Answer:

Metals can contribute to dementia (like lead) and Parkinson's disease (like manganese) but in order to do so you usually need high levels, usually from occupational exposure. They might also alter the effects of drugs used to treat dementia.

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Response by:

Paula K Ogrocki, PhD Paula K Ogrocki, PhD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University

Peter J Whitehouse, MD, PhD Peter J Whitehouse, MD, PhD
Professor of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University