Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia (memory loss). Every year almost 6 million people in the United States are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and it is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The disease was first discovered in the brain of a dead German woman by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1906, hence called Alzheimer’s disease.
It is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder in which, due to unknown causes specific part of the brain called the hippocampus is affected. The disease causes cognitive and behavioral functions to decline, affecting the quality of life. Alzheimer’s has a long and progressive clinical course. The symptoms first appear at old age.
The exact mechanism by which Alzheimer’s affects the brain is unknown, but the studies suggest plaque formation in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain concerned with encoding memories and affecting the individual’s ability to make decisions. Hippocampus is affected due to the excessive deposition of proteins like beta-amyloid and tau proteins that are usually trapped by the neural cells. The involvement of the hippocampus causes symptoms and signs of Alzheimer’s that appear later in life.
Depending upon the clinical signs and symptoms, Alzheimer’s can be classified into:
Alzheimer’s disease occurs worldwide. It most commonly occurs in the age group 60-69 years, and the prevalence increases multifold with advancing age. According to some research, it is more common in women than in men.Following are the risk factors for Alzheimer’s:
Clinical signs and symptoms of the disease include:
The only way to definitive diagnosis against Alzheimer’s is an autopsy or brain biopsy. The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and its type is made on clinical presentation. Following labs and radiological tests are carried out to aid the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s:
Differential diagnoses of Alzheimer’s include:
Complications of Alzheimer’s disease include:
Treatment of Alzheimer’s aims to manage the symptoms and maintain the quality of life. The disease itself is incurable, and nothing can be done to prevent it.
Medications used against Alzheimer’s include:
The prognosis of Alzheimer’s depends upon the time of diagnosis and the type of symptoms. It progresses gradually and can cause death anywhere between 3 to 10 years of diagnosis. The cause of death in most cases is aspiration pneumonia.
Alzheimer’s disease is incurable, and no substantial evidence is available against any strategy to prevent the disease. However, certain lifestyle changes can help decrease or slow down the disease progression. These include:
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on May 11, 2023.