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Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder marked by the worsening of symptoms over time. It’s the most common cause of dementia that gradually impairs memory, behavior, thinking, and the ability to carry out daily activities. It primarily affects older adults, although early-onset cases can occur.

The hallmark of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of abnormal protein deposits that result in brain shrinkage. Eventually, the brain cells die.

What causes Alzheimer’s disease?

The specific causes of Alzheimer’s disease are unknown, but they involve brain proteins that do not function properly. This disturbs neurons or brain cells. Thus, resulting in damage and loss of connections, ultimately leading to cell death.

Alzheimer’s disease is most likely caused by the following factors: 

·      Hereditary

·      Behavioral

·      Environmental

In less than 1% of instances, particular genetic alterations nearly guarantee the disease, which typically begins in middle age.

The disease develops years before symptoms appear, affecting the memory control region first. Brain shrinkage is severe in the late stages. 

What are the warning indicators of Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is not a natural progression of aging. Memory issues are often one of the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. In addition, someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may experience one or more of the following:

·      Trouble managing money and paying payments.

·      Memory loss interferes with daily activities, such as getting lost in a familiar location or repeating questions.

·      Difficulty accomplishing routine chores at home, work, or in leisure.

·      Misplacing items and being unable to trace your movements to find them.

·      Reduced or poor judgment.

·      Changes in mood, personality, or behavior.

What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?

Dementia refers to a decline in mental function affecting daily life, not a specific disease. It involves two or more difficulties:

·      Memory

·      Reasoning

·      Language

·      spatial understanding

·      behavior

·      personality

Dementia severity varies. In mild stages, there’s a slight mental decline, while in severe stages, full dependence on others for daily tasks is common.

Infections or diseases affecting brain functions lead to dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent cause. It constitutes at least two-thirds of dementia cases in those aged 65 and older.

What are the treatments for Alzheimer’s disease?

There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Some medications can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms. These medications also address behavioral issues. 

Beginning treatment early may maintain daily functioning for a while. However, current medications can’t stop or reverse AD.

As AD varies for each individual, treatment plans are personalized, with healthcare providers collaborating with patients and caregivers. 

The FDA has approved two types of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms:

·      Cholinesterase inhibitors

·      NMDA antagonists

Aducanumab, the first disease-modifying therapy, has received accelerated FDA approval. It helps reduce amyloid deposits in the brain. Thus, potentially benefiting those in the early stages. Donepezil, Rivastigmine, and Galantamine are all FDA-approved medications for AD.

There is no approved medicine for the treatment of behavioral symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease. Some people may benefit from the following medications:

·      Anti-anxiety- can alleviate agitation.

·      Antidepressants– can alleviate anxiety, restlessness, aggressiveness, and sadness.

·      Anticonvulsant -may be used to treat aggressiveness.

·      Antipsychotics– can alleviate paranoia, hallucinations, and agitation.

Can I lower my risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease? 

Although some risk factors like age and genetics are beyond your control, you might be able to manage other factors to help minimize your risk.

There are several risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease:

·      Age is the most important risk factor.

·      Genetics

·      Depression

·      Head injury

·      Cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease.

·      High levels of cholesterol

·      High blood pressure

·      Diabetes

·      Obesity

·      Smoking