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What You Should Know About Alzheimers Disease and Dementia

Dementia is a serious progressive brain dysfunction that gradually leads to an increasing restriction of daily activities.

It usually begins with mild forgetfulness and end with serious brain damage. Alzheimers is one of the best known forms of the disease and it must be remembered that it not only affects the individual, but also those loved ones who surround them. 

The disease itself was named after a 19th century Doctor called Alois Alzheimer who noticed peculiar changes in brain tissue of a woman who had died from a curious cerebral illness which led her to become mentally deficient.

Abnormal clumps (known as amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibres (neurofibrillary tangles in the brain are today considered classic signs of Alzheimers disease.

* Memory loss is an early sign

Alzheimers disease is usually associated with detrimental, progressive memory loss. The symptoms usually begin with periodic forgetfulness which usually worsens and is eventually noticed by the family.
Forgetfulness begins to interfere with daily activities and those in the middle stages of the illness may forget how to do simple task such as brushing their teeth or combing their hair.

The ability to think clearly deteriorates the individual often experiences language difficulties, deterioration of coordination, and loss of facial recognition. It is often difficult to diagnose the disease early but if you recognise any of the above signs, you should discuss with the person's doctor.

As the disease progresses the sufferer may become anxious or aggressive and begin to wonder away from the home. Sadly, patients begin to require full time care.

* Extensive research, but no cure

Although research has been extensive, no cure has been discovered. It has been noticed that there is a relationship between aging and developing Alzheimers disease. As there is no reversible cure, genetic factors make treating Alzheimers very hard.

The disease usually develops after the age of 60, and the risk goes up with age progression. However, it should be remembered that Alzheimers disease is not a normal part of aging. Younger people may also get Alzheimers disease, although this is much less common.

Other brain changes in people with Alzheimers disease have also been found such as the destruction of nerve cells in areas of the brain vital to memory and other mental abilities the connections between nerve cells are also disrupted. Lower levels of chemicals that carry messages back and forth from the brain and nerve cells have also been discovered.

The cause of Alzheimers disease is still not recognized although it is thought there are probably several factors affecting its development and the people who develop it.

Age is the most important risk factor as the number of people with Alzheimers disease doubles every five years after they reach the age of 65.

Scientists are also conducting research into a possible link to family history. It is thought genetics may also play a big role in the development of Alzheimers in many cases.

Several risk factor genes may interact with both each other and non-genetic factors to cause the disease. A gene creating one form of a protein called apolipoprotein E (ApoE) has been identified so far for late-onset Alzheimers disease. 

ApoE assists in carrying cholesterol in the blood and it has been found only about 15 percent of people have the form that increases the risk of developing Alzheimers disease.

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