Sunday, August 7, 2011

Alzheimer's Disease - A Short Overview


Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that begins at around 55 years old with symptoms that develop slowly, sometimes unnoticeable. It is characterized by progressive cognitive deterioration, leading to an impairment of memory, reasoning, language and perception. It seems that the chance of having Alzheimer’s disease increases after the age of 70 and will affect half of the people over the age of 85. 

Sometimes it can start with psychotic disorders, hallucinations, delirium, and even a chronic depression. 

At the beginning, a few symptoms can be observed, such as mild memory loss, small personality changes and a tendency to withdraw from social interaction. These may be seen as normal for an older person and they won’t draw other’s attention. As things evolve, the person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease will have problems with figures, numbers, severe memory problems, and will eventually become more agitated and irritated. Other social problems can occur, like the inability to dress appropriately or recognizing close relatives. When the disease becomes more severe, the patient will become confused and disoriented. Their focused attention is affected, they have problems with spatial and temporal orientation, and their ability to store and recall memories is greatly damaged(although most of the patients will find it easy to recall old memories). In the latest stage, patients will lose the ability to care for themselves because the disease evolves in a profound state of dementia and they ultimately die from problems that occur in severely deteriorated states of health.
Auguste Deter -
 First described case with Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer’s disease usually evolves between two and five years, sometimes in 10 years. Because of its diffuse cerebral lesions, Alzheimer’s disease is a typical case of progressive and global deterioration of the Central Nervous System.

Causes: the causes for Alzheimer’s disease are unknown but scientists have pointed out a few risk factors such as: advancing age, having a relative with Alzheimer's disease, head trauma, etc.

The disease manifests in two ways:   with deposits of the protein beta-amyloid  that accumulate in the spaces between nerve cells or  deposits of the protein TAU that accumulate inside of nerve cells 

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