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 Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease

Overview

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and die. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. It is a condition that involves a persistent decline in the ability to think, as well as in behavioral and social skills; This negatively affects a person's ability to work independently.

In the United States, about 5.8 million people with Alzheimer's disease are 65 and older. And 80% of them are 75 years old and over. Of the approximately 50 million people worldwide with dementia, an estimated 60% to 70% have Alzheimer's disease.

Early indications of illness include forgetting recent events or conversations. As the disease progresses, a person with Alzheimer's disease will experience severe memory impairment and lose the ability to perform daily tasks.

Medications may temporarily improve symptoms or slow their progression. Sometimes, these treatments can help people with Alzheimer's increase function and maintain self-reliance for some time. Various programs and services can also help support people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers.

There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease or to stop the changes it causes in the brain. In the advanced stages of the disease, complications from serious deterioration in brain function, such as dehydration, malnutrition, or infection, can lead to death.

Symptoms

Memory loss is the main symptom of Alzheimer's disease. Early signs include difficulty remembering recent events or conversations. As the disease progresses, memory impairments worsen and other symptoms appear.

At first, a person with Alzheimer's disease may be aware that they have difficulty remembering things and organizing thoughts. It's very likely that a family member or friend will notice how symptoms worsen.

Brain changes associated with Alzheimer's disease lead to increased difficulties in the following cases:


memory

Everyone has memory lapses from time to time, but the memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease persists and gets worse. What affects the ability to perform work or home functions.

People with Alzheimer's disease may do the following:

  • Repeating phrases and questions over and over again
  • Forget about conversations, appointments, or events, and don't remember them later
  • Putting possessions in other than their usual places, and often they put them in unreasonable places
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Eventually, forget the names of family members and everyday objects
  • Having trouble finding the right words to define things, express their thoughts, or engage in conversation

Thinking and reasoning

Alzheimer's disease causes difficulty concentrating and thinking, especially when it comes to abstract concepts such as numbers.

Doing multiple tasks at the same time becomes especially difficult, and it can be difficult to manage finances, balance checkbooks, and pay bills when they are due. Eventually, a person with Alzheimer's may not be able to distinguish numbers and do arithmetic.

Making judgments and making decisions

Alzheimer's disease worsens the ability to make informed decisions and judgments in everyday situations. For example, a person may make poor or uncharacteristic choices in social interactions or dress inappropriately for the weather. It may become increasingly difficult to respond correctly to everyday problems, such as burning food on the stove or taking unexpected situations while driving.

Plan and perform similar tasks

As the disease progresses, previously normal activities become more difficult and require sequential steps, such as planning and cooking a meal or playing a favorite game. Eventually, people with late-stage Alzheimer's often forget how to perform basic tasks, such as getting dressed and bathing.

Changes in personality and behavior

Brain changes associated with Alzheimer's disease can affect mood and behavior. Problems may include:

  • Depression
  • carelessness
  • social withdrawal
  • mood swings
  • Loss of trust in others
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • wandering aimlessly
  • Loss of breath control
  • Delusions, such as believing that something has been stolen

The skills that are preserved

Many important skills are maintained for longer periods despite worsening symptoms. Skills preserved may include reading or listening to spoken books, telling stories and memories, singing, listening to music, dancing, drawing, or doing crafts.

These skills can be preserved for a longer period; Because it is controlled by parts of the brain that are subsequently damaged during the expected course of the disease.


When do you visit the doctor?

A number of conditions, including treatable ones, can lead to memory loss or other symptoms of dementia. If you're concerned about your memory or other thinking skills, talk to your doctor for a thorough evaluation and diagnosis.

If you're concerned about the thinking skills you're seeing in a family member or friend, talk about your concerns and ask them to go to a doctor's appointment.

the reasons

The exact causes of Alzheimer's disease aren't fully understood. But basically, there are proteins in the brain that do not function normally, affecting the functioning of brain cells (neurons) and releasing a series of toxic substances. Neurons become damaged, lose contact with each other and eventually die.

Scientists believe that Alzheimer's disease occurs in most people due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors related to lifestyle and affecting the brain over time.

In less than 1%, Alzheimer's is caused by specific genetic changes that cause a person to develop the disease. These rare occurrences usually result in the onset of the disease in middle age.

The damage most often begins in a specific area of ​​the brain that controls memory, but the process begins years before the first symptoms appear. The loss of neurons then spreads to other areas of the brain at a somewhat predictable pace. The brain shrinks significantly once the late stages of the disease are reached.

Researchers trying to understand the cause of Alzheimer's disease focus on the role of two types of proteins:

  • plaques; Beta-amyloid is part of a larger protein. When these parts come together, they appear to have a toxic effect on neurons, disrupting communication between cells. These clusters form larger deposits called amyloid plaques that also include other cellular debris.
  • interlocks; Tau proteins play a particular role in the internal support of a neuron and its transport system for carrying nutrients and other essential substances. In Alzheimer's disease, tau proteins change shape, organizing into shapes called neurofibrillary tangles. The tangles disrupt the transport system and endocytosis.

risk factors

Age

Aging is the biggest risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is not a normal stage of aging, but the risk of developing it increases with age

One study, for example, revealed that annually there are four new diagnoses per 1,000 people aged 65-74, 32 new diagnoses per 1,000 people aged 75-84, and 76 new diagnoses per 1,000 people aged 85 and over.


Family history and genetics

Your risk of developing Alzheimer's is somewhat increased if a first-degree relative, such as your parents or siblings, has the disease. Most of the genetic mechanisms of transmission of Alzheimer's disease between families are still largely unknown, and genetic factors are somewhat complex.

A well-understood genetic factor is the formation of the apoprotein E gene. Variation in the APOE e4 gene increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease. About 25 percent to 30 percent of the population carries the APOE e4 allele, but not everyone with this genetic variation develops the disease.

Scientists have identified rare changes (mutations) in three genes that ultimately lead to Alzheimer's disease in a person who inherits one. But the rate of these mutations is less than 1 percent among people with Alzheimer's disease.

Down's syndrome

A large number of people with Down syndrome develop Alzheimer's disease. This is likely to be due to the presence of three copies of chromosome 21 - and thus three copies of the protein gene, which can result in the formation of beta-amyloid protein. Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease appear 10 to 20 years earlier in people with Down syndrome than in the general population.

sex

There appears to be little difference in risk between men and women, but, in general, more women have the disease because they generally live longer than men.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

Mild cognitive impairment represents impairment in memory or other thinking skills that is greater than normal for a person's age, but this impairment does not prevent the person from participating in social or work environments.

People with mild cognitive impairment are also at increased risk of developing dementia. When the primary deficit of mild cognitive impairment in memory, it is likely that the condition will progress to Alzheimer's dementia. A diagnosis of MCI encourages you to focus more on healthy lifestyle changes, develop strategies to compensate for memory loss, and schedule regular doctor appointments to monitor symptoms.


Head trauma

People who have had a violent traumatic injury to the head are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. Several large-scale studies have shown that the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease increases among people 50 and older who have experienced a traumatic brain injury. The risk also increases among people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, and these injuries were multiple and more serious. Some studies suggest that the risk may be highest during the first six months to two years after a traumatic brain injury.

air pollution

Animal studies have indicated that airborne pollution particles may accelerate the deterioration of the nervous system. Studies conducted on humans have shown that exposure to air pollution, especially pollution from traffic exhaust and wood burning, is associated with an increased risk of dementia.

Excessive alcohol consumption

Drinking large amounts of alcohol has long been known to cause changes in the brain. Several studies and reviews found that alcohol use disorders were associated with a higher risk of dementia, particularly early dementia.


bad sleep patterns

Research has shown that poor sleep patterns, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Lifestyle and heart health

Research has shown that the same risk factors associated with heart disease may also increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease. They include:

  1. lack of exercise
  2. obesity
  3. Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  4. Hypertension
  5. high cholesterol
  6. Type 2 diabetes is difficult to control

All of these factors can be modified. Therefore, changing your lifestyle habits can contribute to modifying your risk to some extent. For example, we find that regular exercise and eating healthy meals that are low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables are usually associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Lifelong learning and social engagement

Studies have found an association between lifelong participation in mental and social motivational activities and a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease. Low levels of education — lower than secondary education — appear to be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.

Complications

Loss of memory and language, impaired judgment, and other cognitive changes caused by Alzheimer's disease may make other health conditions more difficult to treat. A person with Alzheimer's disease may not be able to:

  • Telling others that he complains of pain
  • Clarify the symptoms of another disease
  • Follow a prescription treatment plan
  • Clarify the side effects of the drug

As Alzheimer's disease progresses to its final stages, brain changes begin to affect bodily functions, such as swallowing, balance, and bowel and bladder control. These effects may increase the risk of other health problems, such as:

  • Inhaling food or drink into the lungs (aspiration)
  • Influenza, pneumonia, and other infections
  • fainting
  • fractions
  • bed sores
  • Malnutrition or dehydration
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dental problems such as mouth ulcers or tooth decay

protection

Alzheimer's disease cannot be prevented. However, lifestyle modifications can be done to avoid a number of risk factors that can lead to Alzheimer's disease. Evidence suggests that changes in diet, exercise, and healthy habits, such as steps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other disorders that cause dementia. Heart-healthy lifestyle choices that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease include:

  • exercise regularly
  • eating a balanced diet of fresh produce, healthy oils, and foods low in saturated fats, such as the Mediterranean diet
  • Follow treatment guidelines to control high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol
  • Seek help from a doctor to quit smoking, if you are a smoker

Studies have shown that maintaining thinking skills in old age and a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease are associated with participation in social activities, reading, dancing, playing board games, creativity, playing a musical instrument, and other activities that require mental and social participation.

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