Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic brain disorder that gradually takes away people’s ability to remember things, think clearly and function well. It can also affect a person’s mood, personality and sense of well-being.
It occurs when proteins build up in and around nerve cells in the brain. These proteins form deposits that look like plaques and tangles.
That cause alzheimer
Alzheimer’s Disease is a chronic condition that affects brain cells and causes memory loss, loss of language, and difficulty learning and completing everyday tasks. There is no cure for the disease, but there are treatments that can help improve your quality of life.
A person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s depends on several factors, including age, gender and family history. Most people who develop the disease are over 65 years old, but some younger adults can also get dementia-related problems like apathy, depression and memory loss.
The most important risk factor is having a gene that increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. This gene, called apolipoprotein E-e4 (APOE e4), can increase your risk for the disease by more than 30 percent.
Having a genetic variant of this gene can affect how your body makes a protein called APOE, which helps carry cholesterol and other fats in the bloodstream. Scientists have linked the APOE variant with early-onset Alzheimer’s and some forms of late-onset Alzheimer’s.
Other genes that can make you more likely to develop Alzheimer’s include variations in the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and tau proteins. These proteins make harmful, sticky fragments that cluster to form plaques in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers don’t know why these proteins build up in the brain, but they suspect that it’s because of a combination of genes, lifestyle and environmental factors. A person with a variant of one of these genes may have an increased risk of getting the disease or be at low risk, but the importance of each variable varies from person to person.
If you have a gene that increases your risk of Alzheimer’s, you can lower your risk by taking certain medications and making changes to your diet and exercise. Some medications, such as antidepressants and anticonvulsant drugs, can be helpful in treating a few symptoms of the disease, but they can have serious side effects if taken long-term.
Another way to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s is by avoiding smoking. Smoking can decrease the flow of oxygen to the brain and can increase your risk of developing vascular problems in the brain, which are a common cause of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Signs of alzheimer’s disease
Memory loss, thinking problems and behavior changes are the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. People with dementia may also have a loss of their ability to perform daily tasks, like cooking, bathing, walking or dressing. These changes can make it difficult for them to function in their daily lives and can affect their quality of life.
A person’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease is based on their age and other factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Down syndrome, and head injuries. If a person has a family history of the condition, their chances are even greater.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, the most effective treatments can help slow its progress and improve a person’s quality of life. The medications are available in a variety of forms, such as donepezil (Namzaric) and memantine (Namenda).
Some drugs can also treat depression or other mood changes associated with Alzheimer’s. These medicines can be prescribed by your doctor to help you deal with the challenges that come with having Alzheimer’s.
Other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include difficulty communicating or understanding others, a change in personality and feelings that are confusing, fearful, angry or anxious. These changes can interfere with the ability to live independently, especially if the person has a partner or family who cares for them.
Another important symptom is confusion about events that happened in the past. This can lead to memory lapses and even delusions, which are beliefs about things such as theft or someone trying to take your clothes.
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, these symptoms are often more obvious than the later ones. This is because abnormal proteins, called beta-amyloid, begin to build up in the brain years before a person develops the memory problems associated with the disease. These plaques can then spread to other parts of the brain that control the thinking and judgment abilities of an individual.
Although the causes of Alzheimer’s are not fully understood, it appears that people with more plaques in their brain have a higher risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. This is because plaques can block important signals between nerve cells, leading to memory and thinking problems.
Treatment for alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease has no cure, but treatments can lessen the symptoms and improve quality of life for people with alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Treatment options for the early stages of Alzheimer’s include cholinesterase inhibitors, which can reduce cognitive decline and stabilize symptoms by preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine.
These drugs are prescribed by a doctor for short-term use, typically for six to nine months. They are taken by mouth once a day, as a pill or in an extended-release capsule. Other medications are also available.
If you have Alzheimer’s, your doctor can help you determine which treatments will be right for you and your needs. They can also help you enroll in clinical studies and make sure that you have the support of a caring team of healthcare professionals.
You may be able to join a clinical study that is looking for people with early-stage Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment who want to participate in a research trial to test medications and other therapies that could slow cognitive decline, halt the spread of amyloid plaques and tau tangles, and find a cure. The Alzheimer’s Association has launched a free clinical studies matching service, called TrialMatch(r), to help you find research trials that match your needs.
Medications are the most common treatment for people with early-stage Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment. They work by improving neural communication between brain cells and can ease memory loss, confusion and other cognitive symptoms, as well as judgment problems.
For most people, these medications are effective at reducing symptoms for a while and help you maintain some of your daily activities. They may also help to reduce stress and anxiety, a common problem in people with Alzheimer’s.
Another common symptom is behavioral changes, including mood swings, irritability, and depression. These can cause distress for the person with Alzheimer’s and their family, as well as for care providers. If these symptoms are severe, a doctor can prescribe antipsychotic medicines like risperidone or haloperidol. These medicines can be very effective in reducing aggression and emotional distress, but they must be used for the shortest possible time to prevent serious side effects.
How to prevent alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is a long-term condition that affects memory, thinking and behaviour. It is the most common form of dementia. It is most common in people over the age of 65, but it can also start in younger adults.
The risk of developing Alzheimer’s is linked to several factors, including age, family history and genetics. Lifestyle choices such as healthy eating, physical activity and avoiding smoking may help to reduce your risk of developing the condition.
Scientists don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s, but they suspect that it begins in the brain with damage to nerve cells (neurons). The damaged neurons aren’t communicating with each other properly. Over time, these neurons die and the brain shrinks. Then, brain cells don’t have the energy to send messages to other parts of the brain, causing problems with memory and thinking.
These changes can begin years before the first signs of dementia appear. This stage is called preclinical Alzheimer’s.
Researchers think that this early-stage damage is caused by proteins called beta-amyloid and tau tangles. Fragments of these proteins clump together, forming plaques that can damage and kill nerve cells in the brain.
Plaques and tangles can form in almost everyone as they age, but those with Alzheimer’s develop many more. Eventually, these tangles and plaques spread and damage many different areas of the brain.
It is very difficult to diagnose dementia until it has developed into Alzheimer’s disease, but it is important to see a doctor if you or someone you know has any of the warning signs of dementia. This can give you the opportunity to get treatment and support before the disease progresses too far.
Symptoms vary from person to person, but they include forgetfulness and confusion about dates, place and time. They can also include mood changes such as irritability, depression and anxiety. They can also lead to behavioural problems such as calling out, repeating questions or disturbances in sleep patterns.
In some people, Alzheimer’s causes delusions and hallucinations. These are when people believe something that isn’t true – for example, they might be convinced that someone is stealing from them or that they have been attacked.