What Is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s Disease, also known as AD or just Alzheimer’s, is a progressive degenerative disorder that affects the brain. This neurodegenerative disease damages the brain cells responsible for intellectual functioning and affects memory, judgment, speech and intelligence – ultimately leading to the loss of both mental and physical functions.

The cause of Alzheimer’s is unknown, though it affects over 5 million Americans, both male and female mostly over the age of 65, though in some cases onset is as early as 40 or 50. It is currently the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States. It’s the most common form of dementia and currently has no cure. What little we do know about the disease was just learned in the past 15 years. There is an accelerating worldwide effort under way to find better forms of treatment, to delay its onset or even prevent it from developing.

Earlier research suggest it’s caused by a┬áreduced biosynthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter in both the peripheral and central nervous system. Another hypotheses centers on the effects of the misfolded and aggregated proteins, amyloid beta and tau. The latest research leads to Amyloid beta as being the common initiating factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The few available medications cannot stop or even slow the disease’s progression and offer only relatively small symptomatic benefits, primarily with memory retention.

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s are known, however, and suggest that adults with damaged blood vessels or atrophy in their temporal lobe can increase the chances of developing the disease. Since blood vessel damage is often caused by high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes it is safe to say that prevention of these conditions can lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Common risk reducers include intellectual stimulation, regular exercise, a healthy diet and social interaction.

October 25th, 2007 • mdvaldosta • Alzheimer's, Conditions and Diseases No Comments »

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