ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Heartbreak of Alzheimer's Diesase

Updated on June 15, 2015

The Heartbreak ofAlzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is an incurable degenerative disease of the brain, specifically affecting the nerve cells of the frontal and temporal lobes of the cerebrum. The disease was first described in 1906 by German neurologist Alois Alzheimer, who discovered the condition during an autopsy of a 55-year-old patient who had died with severe dementia. During the autopsy Alzheimer discovered abnormalities in the brain we now know to be associated with the disease.

Because it used to be thought normal people would lose her mental faculties with advanced age, the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease was once applied only in cases where there was a loss of mental faculties at an early age, say in one's 30s through 60s. Alzheimer's cases that occurred in people 70 or over were chalked up to “senile dementia.” We now know however, Alzheimer's disease is the largest single case of dementia regardless of age.

Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include:

  • memory loss

  • language impairment

  • problems with visual spatial abilities

  • personality changes (ranging from apathy to irritability)

  • depression

  • delusions

  • hallucinations

There may be alternating periods of increase and decline of the severity of the symptoms, but the symptoms inevitably worsen, and there is no known cure. In September 1993, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a drug called tacrine that, although not a cure, may relieve symptoms in certain patients.

Anyone who show signs of confusion, forgetfulness, or other unusual behavior should be medically evaluated without delay. There are many conditions that occur during aging process that, at first glance, give the mistaken appearance of early Alzheimer's. Many of these conditions are temporary and reversible if properly treated.

The risk of developing Alzheimer's disease is less than one in 100 before age 50 but increases sharply thereafter, to one in 14 at age 65, one in four at age 80, and almost one in three at age 90. People having immediate family members with Alzheimer's are considered to have an increased risk of getting the disease. Researchers believe both genetic and environmental factors may have a major contributory role in the disease.

Today, Alzheimer's affects some 2 million Americans. The cause of the disease is still unknown, but we do know the disease is accompanied by such abnormalities as:

  • neurofibrillary tangles-fibrous structures within the nerve cells

  • neuritic plaques

  • accumulation of aluminum and new neuritic plaques and tangled neurons

  • decreases in brain chemicals neurotransmitters-substances such as acetylcholine, serotonin, somatostatin, and norepinephrine

What we don't know yet is whether these abnormalities cause Alzheimer's disease or whether the disease causes these abnormalities. The answer to this “chicken and egg” question may one day yield clues pointing us toward a cure for this tragic disease.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)