Alzheimer’s disease is a serious brain condition that causes memory loss and other cognitive problems. It usually affects people over the age of 65 but may also occur in younger people.
Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the loss of a chemical called acetylcholine in the brain. This causes problems with communication between brain cells. Some medications can increase the level of acetylcholine in the body and brain.
That cause alzheimer
Alzheimer’s disease is caused by an abnormal build-up of brain protein. This is a toxic process that damages and kills nerve cells in the brain. This process begins years before symptoms develop. It also causes a decrease in chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that send messages between nerve cells. These chemicals help to control emotions, memory, and behavior.
Researchers don’t know exactly what causes the clumping of these proteins, but they have long known that they can create plaques and tangles inside and around nerve cells. Plaques and tangles destroy the nerve cells, which can then lead to memory problems and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
A family history of Alzheimer’s is another factor that increases the risk of developing the disease. It’s also possible to have the condition without a family history. People who have a parent, sibling, or child with the disease are at an even greater risk than someone without a family history.
Having a head injury is another factor that raises the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. It’s not clear why head injuries increase the risk of dementia, but if you’ve had a head injury it may affect your brain’s ability to make memory-related chemicals.
Women have a higher risk of developing dementia than men, although this is not related to gender alone. The cause is unclear, but it may be related to changes in estrogen levels throughout a woman’s life.
Older age is another factor that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Most people who get Alzheimer’s have a late-onset form of the disease that occurs in their 60s or later. It’s not clear what causes this form of the disease, but it seems to run in families.
Some other factors that can lead to dementia are vascular problems like a stroke or ministrokes, as well as high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. These conditions damage the brain’s blood vessels and prevent the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. These conditions can also lead to the formation of abnormal proteins called beta-amyloid and tau tangles in the brain.
Signs of alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia (a condition affecting memory and thinking skills). It usually starts in people who are 65 years or older. But the condition can also start in younger people who are considered to have “early-onset Alzheimer’s”.
The most common symptom of Alzheimer’s is memory loss. Some changes in memory are normal as we age, but those associated with Alzheimer’s are more severe and can affect the ability to carry out daily activities.
These symptoms may include forgetting the day of the week, putting objects in wrong places and not remembering how to carry out everyday tasks such as shopping or cooking. These are called cognitive symptoms and can be very distressing for those affected as well as their loved ones.
A person who is suffering from Alzheimer’s can also have problems with communication and reasoning. They might find it hard to talk about the same things over and over again, and they may need help in communicating with their family members and friends.
As the disease progresses, a person might begin to have delusions and hallucinations. They might also have trouble focusing on tasks and become confused, suspicious or fearful.
Sometimes a person may start to become very passive and dependent on others, becoming more like a child or an infant. They might not want to do any of their usual daily activities such as walking, dressing or eating.
In advanced stages of the disease, a person might need to be completely reliant on their caregivers, and they could become bedridden or die as their body shuts down. If you or a loved one are experiencing these signs, it is important to speak to your doctor.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s are triggered by abnormalities in the brain that cause plaques, tangles and neuronal death to build up over time. These processes cause damage to brain cells, which makes them less capable of passing messages and storing information.
Identifying the warning signs of Alzheimer’s early on can help a person and their loved ones get appropriate care and support. These can include a medical assessment and referral to specialist care.
Treatment for alzheimer’s disease
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are a few medications that may help slow the progression of symptoms and improve quality of life. These are cholinesterase inhibitors (such as Exelon, Razadyne and Leqembi) or memantine (namenda).
There is also the drug aducanumab (marketed as Aduhelm by Biogen) which is injected into the brain. The drug targets a protein called beta-amyloid which builds up and causes the memory problems associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
The protein beta-amyloid is what triggers the formation of plaques and tangles in the brain, which are the hallmark features of this condition. Almost everyone develops some plaques and tangles as they age, but those with Alzheimer’s disease have many more. These proteins build up in the brain and destroy nerve cells over time.
Currently, there are two types of medication that are approved by the FDA to treat Alzheimer’s disease: cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. Both of these drugs have a range of side effects, and it is important to consult with your doctor before taking any medicine.
Some people find that these drugs improve their thinking, communication and day-to-day activities. However, it can take several months to notice any changes. It is important to discuss any changes with your GP or pharmacist.
Memantine is an N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist that helps keep certain brain cells healthier and reduces the number of toxic amyloid proteins in the brain. It has shown to improve a range of everyday activities and helps some people with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease stay more independent for longer than they would otherwise be able to.
There are also some non-drug treatments that can be helpful to those with early onset Alzheimer’s, including counselling and cognitive stimulation. This can involve attending sessions that encourage cognitively challenging tasks, such as playing board games or puzzles, or engaging in life story work. You can get more information on what’s available locally from memory services and local Alzheimer’s Society offices.
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be stressful, and it is important to be aware of the signs that your loved one is experiencing, so you know when to contact their healthcare team. It can also be useful to keep a journal of their mental, emotional and behavioral changes.
How to prevent alzheimer’s disease
There is no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but there are things you can do that might lower your risk. These include managing high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease; eating a healthy diet with less fat; maintaining a healthy weight; and getting regular exercise.
Family history is another factor. People who have a close relative with Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to develop it themselves. If you have a family member with the disease, talk to your doctor about having tests to find out what the genes are that might be linked to it.
The condition is thought to be caused by abnormal build-up of two proteins that can damage brain cells. These are called beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles. They begin to form in the brain years before symptoms appear.
These deposits block messages from reaching nerve cells and cause problems with memory and other mental functions. They also cause shrinking of the outer part of the brain (the cortex), which is crucial for memory, language and judgement.
Scientists are working to figure out what triggers the abnormal build-up of these proteins. They think that it is a combination of genetics and other factors, such as stress.
A decrease in chemical messengers (called neurotransmitters) that send signals between brain cells is also believed to be involved. Levels of one neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, are particularly low in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
There are also a number of different treatments available to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, some doctors prescribe drugs to help the brain make more of its own neurotransmitters.
However, these drugs may not work for everyone and could have side effects. They can also be expensive and difficult to take.
Keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels under control is also an important step in preventing the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Check with your doctor to see if these issues might be affecting you and work together to manage them.
Having too much stress in your life can also lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Try to find ways to relax and manage your stress, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation.