What is Alzheimers & Dementia?

Updated: Oct 24, 2019

Alzheimers & Dementia Fast Facts

  1. Alzheimers is the most common form of dementia

  2. It’s characterized by gradual deterioration of mental ability

  3. People over the age of 65 survive 4-8 years on average after diagnosis, but some can live over 20 years post-diagnosis

  4. Destruction of neurons is widespread in the memory-related parts of the brain which explains why memory loss is an early sign of Alzheimers

Biological & Physical Characteristics of Alzheimers

  1. Amyloid plaques & neurofibrillary tangles must be present for Alzheimers to be diagnosed

  2. Reduction in level of neurotransmitters that are necessary for healthy brain functioning

  3. Patients may become: insomniacs, depressed, agressive, emotionally unstable, agitated, bedridden, incontinent, and unresponsive to the outside world

Risk Factors for Alzheimers

  1. Prevention is the best method of treatment for any disease

  2. The distinction between risk factors & causes are unclear with Alzheimers because the biology is not fully understood yet

  3. Risk factors include: old age, being female, genetic predisposition, elevated levels of lipoprotein, cardiovascular disorders, depression, and Down syndrome.

  4. Old age is the strongest risk factor; at age 85, the risk for Alzheimers reaches nearly 50%

  5. Risk factors for Alzheimers are similar to those of heart disease, including: elevated LDL cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, smoking, unhealthy fat consumption, obesity, lack of exercise, and type 2 diabetes

Warning Signs of Alzheimers Memory loss that disrupts daily life

  1. Challenges in problem-solving or planning

  2. Difficulty completing familiar tasks

  3. Confusion regarding time or place

  4. Trouble understanding visual images & spatial relationships

  5. Problems with words in speaking or writing

  6. Misplacing items & losing ability to retrace steps

  7. Decreased/poor judgement

  8. Withdrawal from work or social activities

  9. Mood or personality changes

Treatment Options

  1. Although no treatment is available for halting the disease, some treatments can help control symptoms and preserve mental ability for as long as possible

  2. Drugs include: cholinesterase inhibitors (Cognex, Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne), NMDA receptor antagonists (Namenda), Eldepyrl, and Vitamin A

  3. Immunotherapy- manipulating the immune system to treat diseases

  4. On the Horizon: Vaccine (CAD106) that targets beta-amyloid shows promise; triggered a response in 48 out of 58 people

  5. Estrogen Therapy

  6. Dietary supplements: gingko biloba, Vitamin E & C, omega-3 fatty acids

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