Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that slowly damages memory, thinking and reasoning skills. It’s caused by abnormal changes in brain cells, including the clumping of proteins called plaques and tangles.
People with Alzheimer’s also have less of some important chemicals that send signals between brain cells. Drug treatments that boost these chemicals may help with some symptoms.
That cause alzheimer
Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a series of changes in the brain. These changes cause the brain to lose its ability to process information, make connections and remember things. This can affect a person’s memory, mood and ability to do everyday activities. It’s called dementia and can be very difficult for the person with it as well as their families.
Most people who develop Alzheimer’s disease are over 65 years old. But a few younger people also have it. This is called “early onset Alzheimer’s” and accounts for less than 10% of all cases.
Your age is a major factor in your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. After you reach 65, your chance of getting the disease doubles every five years. It’s more common in women than men, but anyone can get it.
Other risk factors include a history of head injuries. These can be from falls, car accidents and sports. They can damage the brain’s blood vessels, which increase your risk of developing dementia.
Genetics are another important factor in your risk of Alzheimer’s. Some genes are more likely to cause late onset Alzheimer’s than others. However, the actual increase in risk is small if you have these particular genes.
Research is still ongoing to understand more about these genes and how they work. In the meantime, if you have one of these risk genes, you might want to see your doctor about it.
A change in the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene increases your risk of Alzheimer’s, but the exact cause is not known. This change is part of a series of mutations in the APP gene that causes amyloid plaques and tangles to build up in the brain. APOE e4 is the most commonly found change in this gene, and it increases your risk by about 25% to 30%.
Researchers have also found a few other mutations in the APP gene that cause the formation of sticky amyloid fragments. These fragments cluster together to form plaques, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
The brain cells that make these abnormal proteins are also more likely to break down. These changes in the brain may also happen because of conditions that damage the heart or blood vessels, such as high cholesterol levels and diabetes.
Signs of alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually changes the way people think, remember and function. It causes a decline in many cognitive abilities (cognitive skills that help you perform daily activities).
Memory problems, such as forgetting names or where things are, are one of the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. This is because memory loss often occurs first in the part of the brain that controls learning and short-term memory.
Other signs may include difficulty finding words, vision and spatial problems, and a lack of reasoning or judgment. These changes can lead to trouble completing tasks, such as remembering to take medications or paying bills.
As the disease progresses, patients become confused about places and times, develop delusions, and have mood or behavior changes that are sometimes severe. These symptoms can interfere with everyday life and cause stress, especially when people aren’t able to get out and about as much.
Although the causes of Alzheimer’s aren’t fully understood, scientists do know that the brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s develop a decade or more before memory and thinking problems begin. These brain changes are caused by abnormal clumps of protein called amyloid plaques and tangled bundles of fibers called neurofibrillary tangles.
These clumps and tangles are thought to damage neurons and cause the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers also believe that genes handed down from parents can make someone more likely to have the disease.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease usually appear at least 60 years after the onset of amyloid plaques or tangles, but in some people they start earlier than that. The early-onset forms of Alzheimer’s are linked to a specific gene defect.
They usually begin in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays a key role in memory for recent events and learning new information. But they can also happen in other parts of the brain.
At this stage, someone with Alzheimer’s disease can still have some skills, such as reading and writing. They can also have other cognitive skills, such as problem-solving and attention.
It isn’t possible to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease with just physical exams and medical tests. A doctor will perform a neurological exam and a mental status exam, as well as order laboratory tests to help find out what’s causing the symptoms.
Treatment for alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that damages the brain and destroys nerve cells. It causes a loss of memory and thinking skills that may affect daily life. The most common treatment is a medication called a cholinesterase inhibitor, such as donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Razydyne).
Cholinesterase inhibitors increase the levels of a neurotransmitter in the brain called acetylcholine that’s important for alertness, memory and thought. They may help to reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Other medications for Alzheimer’s include a drug that has just been approved by the FDA, called aducanumab. It’s injected intravenously monthly, and it targets beta-amyloid protein in the brain.
Several other medications are available for the disease, and research is ongoing to find more effective treatments. But there aren’t any cures for alzheimer’s, and some drugs can only treat certain stages of the disease.
Another new drug is lecanemab, which is injected every two weeks and has shown promise for mild cognitive impairment caused by Alzheimer’s disease. It was recently granted accelerated approval by the FDA and could become available in 2023.
Memantine, also known as Ebixa or Axura, can be used in combination with cholinesterase inhibitors to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It can also help nerve cells in the brain to communicate with each other.
It is a safe and well-tolerated medication and can be given by a healthcare professional to people who have mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment. It can also be used as a standalone therapy for those with advanced Alzheimer’s.
If a person with Alzheimer’s develops behavioral changes that are hard to manage, they can receive antipsychotic medicines such as risperidone and haloperidol from a consultant psychiatrist. These drugs can improve a person’s mood and behavior, but they should be taken at the lowest dose and for the shortest time possible.
Often, emotional or behavioral problems associated with Alzheimer’s can be treated by counseling and coping strategies. Getting to the cause of these issues can also be helpful. The underlying problems can be due to depression, medication side effects or other health conditions. Identifying what triggers these issues and avoiding or changing them can be very beneficial for the individual with Alzheimer’s and their carer.
How to prevent alzheimer’s disease
The good news is that Alzheimer’s disease is often preventable.
It’s a complex brain disorder that affects memory, thinking and behaviour. Research is underway to find the causes and potential treatments for it.
The best way to prevent Alzheimer’s is to have a healthy lifestyle and avoid certain risk factors. It’s also important to talk to your doctor about any health problems you have.
People with Alzheimer’s tend to have less of some chemicals that help signals pass between cells in the brain. These ‘chemical messengers’ can help with memory and thinking.
In Alzheimer’s, the connections between nerve cells are broken down and proteins build up to form plaques and tangles that can interfere with communication and cause the symptoms of dementia. As the disease progresses, more of these ‘chemical messengers’ are lost and more nerve cells die.
This process destroys the brain’s memory centers and other structures. The disease can also damage other areas of the brain that control thinking and behaviour.
There are many risk factors for Alzheimer’s, including genetics and environmental factors. But many of these risks can be changed or avoided by making changes to your diet, exercise and social life.
For example, avoiding smoking is important for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. It also improves overall health and lowers the risk of other conditions that increase the chance of developing dementia, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
Other ways to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s include exercising and keeping a healthy weight. Eating a balanced, healthy diet with plenty of fresh produce and low in saturated fat can help reduce the risk of this disease.
It’s also a good idea to take part in regular physical activities, like sports and games that engage your mind. These can help keep your brain active and stimulate it, which may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
You should also have a regular checkup to see if you have any health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, which are linked to Alzheimer’s disease. This can help you work with your doctor to manage them and reduce your risk of this condition.