Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and progressively worsen. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia – a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that affects a person’s ability to function independently.
Up to 5.8 million Americans were estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease in 2020. Alzheimer’s disease can affect younger people, but it is very common.
The cause of Alzheimer’s is still not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the Alzheimer’s disease and what it means for those who are affected by it.
The increase in age, increases the chance of having Alzheimer’s
- Age between 65 to 74: 3%
- Between 75 to 84: 17%
- Age from 85 and above: 32%
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
The most common first manifestation of Alzheimer`s disease is
- Loss of short-term memory (such as asking repetitive questions, frequently misplacing objects or forgetting appointments)
Other cognitive deficits tend to involve multiple functions, including the following:
- Impaired reasoning, difficulty handling complex tasks, and poor judgment (such as being unable to manage bank account, making poor financial decisions)
- Language dysfunction (such as difficulty thinking of common words, errors speaking and writing)
- Visuospatial dysfunction (inability to recognize faces or common objects)
- Changes in personality and behavior. Problems may include the following; Depression, Apathy, Social withdrawal, Mood swings, Distrust in others, Irritability and aggressiveness, Changes in sleep habits, Wandering, Loss of inhibitions, Delusions, such as believing something has been stolen
- Planning and performing familiar tasks. A person may have trouble performing certain tasks that are very common or familiar to them like being able to tie their shoes.
Causes of Alzheimer’s disease
For the majority of people, there is no known cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Age-related changes in the brain as well as genetic, environmental, and lifestyle variables are likely contributing factors. Depending on the individual, each of these characteristics may or may not be as significant in lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
A very small percentage of Alzheimer’s have a hereditary component, but when it does, it almost always results in the illness. The disease typically begins in middle age as a result of these uncommon occurrences.
The memory-controlling area of the brain is where the damage most frequently begins, although the harm is already happening years before any symptoms appear. Other parts of the brains experience a reasonably regular pattern of neuron loss. The brain has greatly decreased in size by the disease’s advanced stages.
To better understand the cause of Alzheimer’s, researchers have been studying these two types of proteins
- Plaques: The protein beta-amyloid is a piece of a bigger protein. These fragments appear to be harmful to neurons and disrupt cell-to-cell transmission when they group together. These groups combine to create larger clumps known as amyloid plaques, which also contain other cellular waste.
- Tangles: The internal support and transport system used by neurons to convey nutrition and other necessary components includes tau proteins. Neurofibrillary tangles are formed when tau proteins alter shape and assemble themselves in Alzheimer’s disease. The tangles poison cells and interfere with the transport system.
Risk factors for Alzheimer’s
The factors below may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Age: The likelihood of developing Alzheimer`s disease doubles every 5 years after you reach age 65.
- Family history: in few families, Alzheimer`s disease is caused by the inheritance of a single gene and the risks of the condition being passed on are much higher.
- Down’s syndrome: People with Down`s syndrome are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer`s disease. This is because the genetic changes that cause Down`s syndrome can also cause amyloid plaques to build up in the brain over time, which can lead to Alzheimer`s disease in some people.
- Head injury: A major head injury may increase a person’s likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
- Cardiovascular disease: A number of illnesses and lifestyle choices linked to cardiovascular disease can raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. among them are SMOKING, OBESITY, DIABETES, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, and HIGH CHOLESTEROL.
- Cognitive impairment: Mild cognitive impairment refers to a deterioration in memory or other thinking abilities that is larger than average for an individual’s age but does not interfere with the individual’s ability to operate in social or professional settings.
- Excessive alcohol consumption: Large alcohol consumption has long been linked to altered brain chemistry. Alcohol use disorders were found to be associated with an elevated risk of dementia, particularly early-onset dementia, in a number of significant research and reviews.
- Sleep patterns: Poor sleep habits, such as having trouble getting or staying asleep, have been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research.
- Lifelong learning and social engagement: According to studies, engaging in mentally and socially challenging activities throughout one’s life can lower one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Less than a high school diploma appears to be an educational risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Other risk factors
In addition, the latest research suggests that other factors are also important, although this does not mean these factors are directly responsible for causing Alzheimer`s disease. These include
- Hearing loss
- Untreated Depression
- Loneliness or social isolation
- Sedentary lifestyle
Complications of Alzheimer’s disease
Memory and language loss, impaired judgement and other cognitive changes caused by Alzheimer`s can complicate treatment for other health conditions. A person with Alzheimer`s disease may have difficulty with the following
- Communicate when he or she is experiencing pain
- Explain symptoms of another illness
- Follow a prescribed treatment plan
- Explain medication side effects
When Alzheimer’s disease reaches its final stages, alterations in the brain start to have an impact on bodily processes like swallowing, balance, and bowel and bladder control. These outcomes may make people more susceptible to developing new health issues such;
- Inhaling food or liquid into the lungs (aspiration)
- Flu, pneumonia, and other infections
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Dental problems such as mouth sores or tooth decay
How to prevent
There is no prevention for this illness. However, the majority of lifestyle risks are modifiable. Numerous studies demonstrate how adopting healthy habits like physical activity, reading, and acquiring new skills (including dance, swimming, and cooking) can lower the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
The following can help reduce the risks of developing Alzheimer`s disease.
- Exercising regularly
- Reading books
- Social interaction (such as in events and social clubs)
- Eating a diet of fresh produce, healthy oils, and foods low in saturated fat such as a Mediterranean diet
- Following treatment guidelines to manage high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol
- Quite smoking
Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer`s disease has no cure, but symptoms can be improved by safety and support care, and drugs such as Cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine can be used.
Safety and supportive measures for Alzheimer`s disease are the same as those for all dementias. For example, the environment should be bright, cheerful, and familiar, and it should be designed to reinforce orientation (such as placement of large clocks and calendars in the room).
Drugs to treat Alzheimer‘s
Since cholinesterase inhibition enhances memory and cognitive function, it has been successfully used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. DONEPEZIL, RIVASTIGMINE, GALANTAMINE, and the other three are equally effective, however TACRINE is rarely used due to its hepatotoxicity.
DONEPEZIL is the first choice drug because it has once a day dosing and is well tolerated.
Memantine. this drug helps to improve cognition and functional capacity of patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease.
Aducanumab, is now available as a monthly infusion to treat Alzheimer`s disease and some experts consider it to be the first-choice medicine for treating Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a serious condition that can have a devastating impact on patients and their families. Early detection is crucial in order to get patients the treatment they need as soon as possible. There are a number of signs and symptoms that can indicate Alzheimer’s, and it is important to be aware of them.
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