Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: Everything You Need to Know


Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder that causes brain cells to waste away and die. It occurs when nerve cells in the brain die. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of fast-growing psychological disease of dementia in the elderly. Dementia is a brain disease that harms mental and social skills, which impede daily functioning in normal life. Alzheimer's disease often results in the following behaviors: Thinking, impaired memory, and behavior. In this article, we will let you know Alzheimer's disease facts, causes, symptoms, stages, and diagnosis, treatment, and prevention tips.


Alzheimer's disease
Presenile dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: Everything You Need to Know



What is Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's disease (also called: presenile dementia) is a progressive, fast-growing psychological disease of dementia. It harms mental and social skills, which impede daily functioning in normal life. Alzheimer's disease is atrophy in healthy brain cells leading to a continuous decline in memory and in mental abilities. Dementia is a broad term for situations caused by brain injuries or diseases that negatively affect memory, thinking, and behavior. These changes make a considerable intervention in daily life. 
According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's disease is responsible for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Most people are diagnosed with the disease after 65 years. If it is diagnosed earlier, it is usually known as the primary Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is not a normal stage of aging, but the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease increases with age.
Although Alzheimer's disease is incurable, there are treatments that can slow down the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life of those who suffer from it. Patients with Alzheimer's disease, as well as people who care for them, need support from family and friends to succeed in resisting Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease: Overview and Facts

Although many people have heard of Alzheimer's disease, they do not know what actually it is.  Here are some facts about this disease:
  • Alzheimer's is an old ongoing condition.
  • Alzheimer's disease is not as inevitable as aging.
  • Heart diseases are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's.
  • Scientists are still unsure of the cause of Alzheimer's 
  • The symptoms of  Alzheimer's come gradually and worsen over several years.
  • The effects of Alzheimer's on the brain are irreversible they can cause a slow decline.
  • Alzheimer's disease or presenile dementia is one of the leading causes of death.
  • Alzheimer's disease can happen to anyone, but some people have more risk for it.
  • This includes people over 65 years old and people with a family history of this situation.
  • Women are more susceptible to disease.
  • Each person encounters various experiences with Alzheimer's disease.
  • Alzheimer's is associated with loss of smell.
  • Alzheimer's disease is the most common condition among dementia cases.
  • Alzheimer's and dementia are not the same things. Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia.
  • There is no expected result for people with Alzheimer's. Some people live longer with light cognitive impairment.
  • There is no cure for Alzheimer's, but treatment can help to slow down the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life.



Difference between Alzheimer's and Dementia

The words "dementia" and "Alzheimer's" are sometimes used for each other. However, these two conditions are not the same. Alzheimer's is a type of dementia. Dementia is a progressive deterioration of a person's mental abilities with symptoms related to memory loss such as forgetfulness, confusion, and dysfunction, etc. Dementia is more symptomatic than its disease. Dementia includes more specific conditions like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and others. Due to these diseases, symptoms and treatments can vary. Learn more about how Alzheimer's disease and dementia differ.

Alzheimer's disease
Presenile dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's causes and risk factor

Alzheimer's is not the result of just one factor. Scientists believe that Alzheimer's disease is caused by a combination of genetic factors and other factors related to lifestyle and environment. It is very difficult to understand the causes and factors of Alzheimer's, but its effect on brain cells is clear, as it affects and destroys brain cells.
There are two common types of neuritic damage in Alzheimer's patients:

Plaque: A protein accumulation, usually harmless, called amyloid-beta, can cause damage in the communication process between brain cells. The main reason for the destruction of neurons in Alzheimer's disease is still unknown, but there is ample evidence that the accumulation of amyloid-beta protein abnormally is the cause.

Tangle: The internal structure of brain cells depends on the normal functioning of a protein called Tau protein. In patients with Alzheimer's disease, changes occur in the Tau protein fibers leading to the tingling and twisting.
Many researchers believe that this phenomenon can cause serious damage to nerve cells (neurons), and even eliminate them.
Experts have not identified the actual cause of Alzheimer's disease until now, but they have identified some risk factors, including the following:

Age: Alzheimer's disease usually appears above the age of 65 years, but can appear, in very rare cases, even before the age of 40 years. The prevalence of the disease among people aged 65-74 years is less than 5% among those aged 85 years and older, the prevalence of Alzheimer's is about 50%.

Genetics: If the family has Alzheimer's disease, the risk of this disease in first-degree relatives (sons/daughters, brothers/sisters) is slightly higher. Genetic mechanisms for the transmission of Alzheimer's disease among family members have not yet been fully identified, but scientists note several genetic mutations that increase the risk of infection in certain families.

Gender: Women are more likely and highly susceptible to develop Alzheimer's disease than men. One reason is that women live longer.

Simple cognitive deficits: People with mild cognitive deficits have more serious memory problems than normal and acceptable in their age, but not serious enough to define them as dementia. Many people with these defects develop Alzheimer's disease at some point.

Lifestyle: Factors that increase the risk of heart disease also increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and unbalanced diabetes, etc.
Maintaining high fitness is not the only task - the brain should be trained as well. Some research and studies confirm that the maintenance of mental activity throughout life, especially at an advanced age, reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Educational-Cultural Level: Studies have found a relationship between the low level of education and the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. But the exact reason for this is unknown. Some researchers believe that the more we use our brain, the more contact areas will be created between the neurons, which are a greater reserve in old age. However, it may have been difficult to observe Alzheimer's disease in people who occupy their brains permanently.

These reasons do not mean that you will develop Alzheimer's disease. Rather it can increase your risk level. To learn more about your personal risk of developing the situation, talk to your doctor. Learn more about the amyloid plaque, neurofibrillary tangles, and other factors that can cause Alzheimer's disease.




Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease

In the first phase of Alzheimer's, there is a slight loss of memory, confusion, and dysfunction, ultimately resulting in irreversible damage to the patient's mental abilities, as well as his ability to remember, to think logically, to learn and to imagine.

Memory loss:

By the way, everyone has difficulty remembering some things. It's normal to forget where to put your car keys or the names of people you rarely meet. But memory problems in Alzheimer's patients are exacerbated much and the behavior and symptoms of those with Alzheimer's disease vary over time. Some of the major traits are the following:
  • Alzheimer's patients repeat the same sentences and words
  • Forget conversations or appointments
  • They put things in the wrong place or in places that are completely illogical
  • They forget the names of their family members and the names of objects they use daily
  • Problems in abstract thinking
  • Make distance from friends, family, and society.
  • At the beginning of the disease, Alzheimer's patients may not be able to maintain their financial balance, a problem that may develop into difficulty in knowing, identifying and handling numbers
  • Difficult to find the right or proper word
  • Problems in the ability to locate
  • Loss of sense of time, even Alzheimer's patients may be "lost" in a familiar area
  • Difficulties in solving daily problems, such as knowing how to behave in the event of burning food in the oven, with time it becomes more difficult and eventually becomes impossible.
Alzheimer's disease is characterized by extreme difficulty in the implementation of tasks and actions that require planning, decision-making and the ability to govern and take a position. It is very difficult to carry out routine tasks involving a few stages or steps, such as cooking. People with Alzheimer's disease in its advanced stages forget how to do the most basic things.


Alzheimer's disease
Symptoms of presenile dementia and Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's patients have personality changes in their lives such as:
  • Mood changes
  • Lack of trust in others
  • Increasing intransigence
  • Increasing fear 
  • Social Isolation
  • Depression
  • Aggression

Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, which means that the symptoms gradually get worse over time. Alzheimer's is divided into 7 different steps:

Stage 1: During this stage, there are not any serious memory problems or other symptoms of dementia but initial diagnosis can be based on family history.

Stage 2: In this stage, people can notice that they have minor memory problems and are forgetting things around the house, although not at that point where memory loss can be easily separated from normal age-related memory loss. In this condition, the person will still do good work on memory tests and the disease cannot be detected easily by loved ones or physicians.

Stage 3: At this stage. mild physical and mental impairment appear, such as low memory and concentration. This cognitive problem can only be noticeable by someone very close to the person.
Performance on memory tests is affected and the physician can detect impaired cognitive function.

Stage 4: Alzheimer's is often diagnosed in this stage, patients have a poor short-term memory and forget details about their life histories and are unable to pay bills and manage finance. But it is still considered lightweight because the ability to do everyday tasks is clear.

Stage 5: This is a stage of moderately severe decline. At this stage, patients start to get help in many day-to-day activities and may encounter the following experiences:
  • Significant confusion
  • Difficulty dressing appropriately
  • Inability to recall their own phone number
Stage 6: It is the stage of severe decline. In this phase, a person with Alzheimer's may need help in basic tasks, such as eating, dressing, toileting, and bathing and frequently require professional care and constant supervision. Other symptoms may include:
  • Inability to recognize people faces except for the closest relatives and friends
  • Inability to remember the details of personal history
  • Unawareness of environment and surroundings or excessive confusion
  • Personality and mood changes and potential behavior problems
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
Stage 7: This is the most serious and final stage of Alzheimer's. People in this stage are nearing death. They lose speech, facial expressions and the ability to respond to their environment. While they still can utter words and phrases, there is no insight into their condition and they need help in all activities of daily living. 




Complications of Alzheimer’s disease

In an advanced stage of Alzheimer's disease patients lose the ability to take care of themselves. This fact may result in other medical problems such as Pneumonia. It is difficulty swallowing food and fluids which may cause inhalation of certain nutrients and beverages in the airways (bronchial tubes) and lungs, which may lead to pneumonia.

Presenile dementia
Alzheimer's disease and dementia- Everything you need to know

Diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease

Doctors can diagnose 90% of cases of Alzheimer's disease accurately. The disease can be surely diagnosed only after death, using a microscope to detect plaques and tangles. The doctor may use other tests to assess the mental abilities, diagnose dementia and eliminate other conditions. The doctor will first know about medical history. Apart from this, the doctor can ask -
  • The family medical history about the symptoms
  • The current or previous health status or current or previous medicines
  • About diet, alcohol consumption, or other lifestyle habits


Alzheimer's tests

There is no definitive test for Alzheimer's disease. However, your doctor will do a number of tests to determine your diagnosis. These tests may include physical, mental, neurological and imaging tests. After this, they can take a physical test, for example, they can check your blood pressure, assess heart rate, and take body temperature. In some cases, doctors can collect urine or blood samples for testing in the laboratory. Apart from this, physicians can ask for separate examination to study brain-imaging, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (CT scan). Positron Emission Tomography (PET scan) can also be used to detect less active brain regions and plaques.
By looking at brain scan images, doctors can observe and identify abnormal results, such as blood clots, bleeding or tumors - which may be signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. 

Treatment of Alzheimer's disease

Neurologists sometimes prescribe drugs to reduce the symptoms that often accompany Alzheimer's disease, including the inability to sleep, confusion, anxiety, insomnia, and depression. But only two types of drugs have been shown to be effective in slowing the mental decline caused by Alzheimer's disease - Cholinesterase inhibitors: Memantine and Namenda.

Alternative treatments

Vitamin E: A number of studies have shown that vitamin E may slow the progression of the disease, while others have shown that it is not useful. Doctors warn against taking high doses of vitamin E, as it may increase the risk of dying from heart disease.

GINKGO: Some believe that Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract may help delay the development of memory problems associated with Alzheimer's disease. But recent research has shown that the use of this is not very useful. Please note that these products may adversely affect the effectiveness of blood-thinning drugs (Blood dilution) causing bleeding.

Hfrazin A: A substance produced from Chinese algae that works the same way as cholinesterase inhibitors. The use of this substance with drugs such as Donepezil increases the risk of toxic side effects, so it is prohibited to take them together at the same time.

Alzheimer's care

If someone in your family or your loved one has Alzheimer's disease, then you have to consider taking care of him properly. Although it is usually not easy, it can be very beneficial. This is like a permanent job. Being a caregiver, you have many skills inside you. It is necessary to have patience, creativity, stamina. There is also a benefit from it that you take good care of your loved one by selflessly.

Prevention of Alzheimer's disease

As there is no known cure for Alzheimer's disease, there is no proven defense in the same way. However, human trials of anti-Alzheimer's vaccinations were halted a few years ago because some of the participants in the trials who received the vaccine had acute brain inflammation. The risk of Alzheimer's disease can be reduced, as does the risk of heart disease. Many factors that increase the risk of heart disease may increase the risk of dementia. The main factors are high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Continuing physical, mental and social activity will reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
The following measures can also help:
  • Take green vegetables and fruits
  • Consume more antioxidants
  • Maintain an active social life
Make sure to talk to your doctor before making any major changes to your lifestyle.





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