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Key Information About Alzheimer's Disease

Updated on June 25, 2019
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Srikanth is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.

Overview

Alzheimer's disease is also known as senile dementia. It accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of dementia cases.

Causes

Like all types of dementia, Alzheimer's is caused by brain cell death. Many experts believe that for most people, it is caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the brain over time.

Age-related changes in the brain may harm nerve cells and contribute to Alzheimer's damage.

These age-related changes include atrophy of some parts of the brain, inflammation, production of unstable molecules known as free radicals, and breakdown of energy production within cells.

A research study suggests that enhanced production of amyloid beta and tau and decreased elimination of these proteins is the primary contributing factor to this disease.

These proteins can be present way before the person exhibits impaired cognitive functioning such as loss of memory, making them essential markers for early diagnosis.

A research study conducted in Finland indicates that women who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to ease menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats may be at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

People who live in regional or remote areas have a 6 to 19 percent lower risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease compared with their city counterparts.

For 1% of all cases, there are three genes that determine definitively whether or not you will have Alzheimer's, and all three relate to amyloid-beta production, which in these cases is likely the cause of Alzheimer's.... For the other 99%, amyloid and tau are closely associated with Alzheimer's, but many things may contribute to the development of symptoms, such as inflammation in the brain, vascular risk factors, and lifestyle.

— Dr. Gad Marshall, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Symptoms

Mental decline, difficulty in thinking and understanding, confusion during the evening hours, delusion, disorientation, forgetfulness, making things up, mental confusion, difficulty concentrating, inability to create new memories, inability to do simple maths and inability to recognise common things are some cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

Negative behaviors, like anxiety, anger, and aggression, tend to worsen in the severe stage of this mental disorder.

Diagnosis

To diagnose this mental disorder, your doctor may review your medical history, medication history and symptoms.

A mini mental exam that checks your problem-solving skills, attention span, counting skills and memory helps your doctor know whether there are problems with the areas of your brain involved in learning, memory, thinking, or planning skills.

Treatment

More than a century after the telltale signs of Alzheimer’s were first seen under a microscope, and billions of dollars in research spending by Roche Holding AG, Eli Lilly & Co., Eisai Co. and other companies, there’s still no drug to slow down the disease. But it is often possible to relieve some symptoms.

Seeking new treatments to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, in June 2019, researchers found the hypertension medicine nilvadipine increased blood flow to the brain's memory and learning center among people with Alzheimer's disease without affecting other parts of the brain, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension.

Medicines for Alzheimer’s Disease

Substance name
Brand
Donepezil
Aricept
Rivastigmine
Exelon
Galantamine
Reminyl
Memantine
Ebixa

Prevention

While research is not yet conclusive, some lifestyle choices, like physical activity and diet, may help support brain health and prevent Alzheimer's.


Are you physically active?

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Yoga

Doing regular physical exercise could lower Alzheimer’s disease risk by up to 50 per cent, but, one of the best exercises to lower the risk is yoga. Yoga boosts balance and co-ordination skills.

Foods That Fight Alzheimer's Disease

 
Green leafy vegetables
Nuts
Berries
Beans
Whole grains
Olive oil

Avoid These Foods

 
Sugary drinks
Refined carbs
Foods high in trans fats
Processed foods
Aspartame
Alcohol
Fish containing mercury

I lost both of my parents to Alzheimer’s, and our family helped to care for them. So I understand the difficulties that caregivers and loved ones face as they try to figure out this difficult challenge.

— Shelley Moore Capito, an American politician.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R

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