Alzheimer’s disease is a serious brain condition that can affect people at any age. It’s caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that change over time.
The most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s are problems with memory and thinking. But the condition can affect other parts of the brain too.
That cause alzheimer
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, and it can affect anyone who is at risk for developing the disorder. It’s caused by the buildup of certain proteins inside and outside brain cells. The abnormal buildup is thought to disrupt brain cell function and cause the death of these cells.
Researchers aren’t sure exactly why this occurs, but they think that a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors can increase the chances of developing Alzheimer’s. Less than 1% of people with Alzheimer’s disease have specific genetic changes that virtually guarantee they will develop the disorder.
These genetic changes are called risk genes, and they are associated with a higher risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s. These genetic changes can be passed on to children, and they typically occur in women more than men.
Aging is another common factor that can increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Research has shown that aging increases the production of unstable molecules known as free radicals in the brain. These free radicals cause inflammation and other changes in the brain that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Other risk factors include alcohol use, poor sleep patterns and cardiovascular problems. Changing lifestyle habits to improve sleep and exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
If you have any of these risk factors, talk with your doctor and ask about ways to decrease your risk. You may be able to do so by following a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.
The most important thing is to be aware of the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and see a doctor as soon as you notice any of these symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression of the disease, improve your quality of life and prevent it from affecting your family.
It’s also important to remember that everyone has memory problems at some point in their lives. These can be minor, or they can result in difficulty with everyday activities. Depending on your age, you may be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Many people who have MCI never develop Alzheimer’s disease or regain normal memory function.
Signs of alzheimer’s disease
Memory problems are a normal part of aging, but if they’re affecting daily life it may be time to see a doctor. While a missed appointment or forgetting someone’s name isn’t necessarily a serious memory problem, the more severe your problem becomes, the more likely it is that you have Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms start slowly but get worse over time. This can be hard for the person with the disease and their family and friends.
Forgetting important details, such as the location of a key or the name of a loved one, is common. But, if these lapses are starting to interfere with daily life, it’s important to seek professional help.
Many people with Alzheimer’s disease also have other changes in their behaviour. These are called delusions and hallucinations, and can be distressing for the person with Alzheimer’s as well as their carers.
They can include thinking someone is stealing from them, believing there are other people in their house and seeing things that aren’t really there. Sometimes the changes can become very serious, such as people becoming agitated or aggressive.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are caused by clumps of protein, called beta-amyloid, which form in the brain. These clumps disrupt the way that brain cells talk to each other. This can lead to damage and death of the brain cells.
Researchers believe that genetics, environment and lifestyle also play a role. A healthy diet, physical exercise and a good relationship with your health care provider can help keep the brain healthy and slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Some researchers have found that medicines that are used to treat other conditions, such as high blood pressure or depression, may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. But these treatments can’t cure Alzheimer’s, and they’re not a substitute for regular visits with your healthcare provider and the support of a dementia care team.
Some patients with Alzheimer’s disease have a rare form of the disease that starts before age 65, known as “early-onset” or “pre-dementia”. In these cases, the symptoms usually begin in people in their 30s and 40s, though they can happen at any age.
Treatment for alzheimer’s disease
Currently, there are no medications that can stop or reverse Alzheimer’s disease. However, several medicines can help ease some of the symptoms. These treatments may also slow how quickly the disease progresses and increase how long you can function.
Some of these drugs target the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s, such as the proteins beta-amyloid and tau, which cause plaques to form in the brain. Others improve the function of certain brain cells or boost a chemical messenger called acetylcholine that helps send messages between nerve cells.
In early-stage Alzheimer’s, these drugs are helpful in easing memory loss and other behavioral symptoms. They may also be effective at slowing the progression of the disease and reducing confusion.
Cholinesterase inhibitors (ko-lin-ES-tur-ays) boost the level of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that’s needed for alertness, thinking and judgment. They may be effective for two to three years, but they eventually lose their effectiveness because the dwindling number of brain cells produce less acetylcholine than before.
Memantine (Ebixa(r)), an NMDA receptor antagonist, helps keep certain brain cells healthier by stopping the release of glutamate, another brain chemical that’s released in excess when nerve cells are damaged by Alzheimer’s. Memantine doesn’t cure Alzheimer’s or stop the disease, but it can improve people’s ability to do daily activities like walking, bathing and dressing.
Other therapies include anti-depressants and antipsychotics to treat agitation and aggression. These medications may be effective for a short period of time, but they can also cause side effects including sleepiness, dizziness and mood changes.
The FDA approved a new treatment for early-stage Alzheimer’s in 2021 that targets the amyloid protein that causes plaques to develop. This drug, called aducanumab, marketed as Aduhelm, is the first drug approved for alzheimer’s in almost 20 years.
In the future, scientists hope to make it easier for doctors to diagnose Alzheimer’s by developing more affordable and reliable diagnostic tests that don’t require invasive testing, such as blood or spinal fluid tests. This will help researchers more easily identify participants for clinical trials and better track how well medications work.
The most important thing you can do for yourself or someone you care about is to learn more about the diagnosis and possible treatments. Then, talk with your doctor about your options.
How to prevent alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the most serious health problems that affect people in middle age and older. While there is no cure for this progressive brain disease, there are some things you can do to prevent it.
The first step is to understand what Alzheimer’s is and how it works. It is a progressive disorder that causes memory loss and other thinking problems. It can happen to anyone over the age of 65.
Genetics play a role in the development of the disease. Having certain genes (mutations) increases the risk of developing the disease. For example, a variant of the gene APOE e4 is found in 25% to 30% of people and makes them more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
Another factor that may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s is being overweight or obese. Research shows that obesity can change the way the brain works and increase the chance of getting Alzheimer’s.
You can take steps to lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by making healthy lifestyle choices and exercising regularly. Studies show that these choices can lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 40%.
Exercise also improves blood flow to the brain, which can help reduce the number of abnormal plaques in your brain. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.
Make sure to maintain a regular sleep schedule. Quality sleep can improve memory and learning, and it has been linked to lessening the amount of beta-amyloid in your brain.
Changing your diet to include foods that have been shown to promote brain health may also help prevent Alzheimer’s. Many studies have shown that eating a Mediterranean-style diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish, can decrease your risk of developing dementia by up to 40%.
Staying socially active and engaging in mental activities can help keep your brain sharper for longer. Some activities that can help preserve your cognitive abilities include reading, singing, listening to music, dancing, writing, and playing games.
It’s never too early to start taking care of your brain. The earlier you start, the better your chances are of living with Alzheimer’s for a long time and having a good quality of life.