Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that worsens over time. Dementia is a catch-all term for conditions that impair memory, thinking, and behavior. The changes have an impact on daily life. Dementia can be caused by a variety of factors, including brain injuries or diseases. The cause is sometimes unknown.
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, accounting for approximately 60-80% of cases in the United States. The condition typically affects people aged 65 and older, with only 10% of cases occurring in people younger than this age group.
Because the illness is mild, the side effects worsen as the infection progresses and disrupts a person’s normal life. Find paid Clinical Trials in Michigan to learn more about the disease.
This blog will give you an overview of the condition, including Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
How Common is Alzheimer’s in the United States?
Experts estimate that more than 6 million Americans aged 65 and older may have Alzheimer’s disease. Many more people under the age of 65 have the disease. If current population trends continue, the number of people with Alzheimer’s will increase significantly unless it can be effectively treated or prevented. This is because the most important known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is age.
Pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s Disease
Millions of brain cells (neurons) organize how the brain stores memories, learns habits, and shapes our personalities. Signals are carried along the connections between brain cells by chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Alzheimer’s disease affects these cells and chemicals, causing memory loss, cognitive impairment, and behavioral changes over time. Alzheimer’s patients eventually require long-term care and support.
Alzheimer’s disease is classified into two types:
⦁ Sporadic Alzheimer’s is the most common type and usually develops after the age of 65. Its root cause remains unknown.
- Familial Alzheimer’s (also known as ‘hereditary’ Alzheimer’s) is caused by a very rare genetic condition and results in dementia, most commonly in people in their 40s and 50s. This is referred to as younger-onset dementia.
Factors that Contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease has several factors that contributes to its dvelopment, including amyloid plaque deposits, neurofibrillary tangles, and neuronal death.
⦁ Amyloid plaques are deposits outside of brain cells that prevent the brain from properly transmitting signals.
⦁ Neurofibrillary tangles are deposits inside brain cells that kill the cells by preventing them from receiving food and energy, resulting in dementia that worsens over time.
⦁ Neuronal death causes shrinkage in the cortex, the outer layer of the brain that is important for memory, language, and judgment — Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by this shrinkage.
There is still uncertainty about what causes thses plaques, tangles, and other chemical changes associated with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. Environmental factors, chemical imbalances, and the body’s own immune system are all suspected causes.
Alzheimer’s disease tends to attack the brain’s outermost layer first, which is associated with learning and short-term memory. Other functions are affected as the disease progresses deeper into the brain, and Alzheimer’s disease symptoms worsen.
Mutations in three genes have been found to increase the production of amyloid plaques that damage the brain in people with familial Alzheimer’s disease. Other ‘risk-factor genes’ may increase a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease earlier in life.
Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis
These tests are used to rule out other medical conditions that cause symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease or to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease:
The doctor will inquire about the patient’s current and previous medical conditions, medications, and family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other memory disorders. He or she will also perform a neurologic exams (check reflexes and coordination, eye movement, speech, and sensation) and check all current vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and pulse rate).
Urine and Blood Tests:
Blood counts, vitamin levels, liver and kidney function, mineral balance, and thyroid gland function tests are all standard lab tests used to rule out other causes of symptoms.
Testing for Mental Health:
Memory, problem-solving, focus, counting, and language skills are among the tests administered. This kind of testing can also be used to track the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
This exam includes tests to assess attention, memory, language, reasoning ability, ability to change behavior, personality, and emotional stability. This kind of testing can also be used to track the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
This test, also known as a lumbar puncture, looks for the tau and amyloid proteins that form the plaques and tangles seen in Alzheimer’s patient’s brains.
Blood Imaging Tests:
⦁ Computed tomography (CT):
It is a type of brain imaging test. This scan reveals physical changes in the structure of brain tissue seen in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, such as a decrease in brain size (atrophy), widening of brain tissue indentations, and enlargement of fluid-filled chambers of the brain.
⦁ Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):
This scan may also reveal signs of brain atrophy. It can also detect strokes, tumors, fluid buildup on the brain, and other structural damage that can cause symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
⦁ FMRI (Functional MRI):
This is a type of MRI that detects changes in blood flow to measure brain activity in a specific area. Researchers are using this test to see how the brain changes at different stages of Alzheimer’s disease. It is also being used to test treatments before Alzheimer’s disease symptoms appear.
⦁ Positron emission tomography:
This scan depicts abnormal brain activity in a person with Alzheimer’s disease. It can also aid in the differentiation of Alzheimer’s disease from other types of dementia.
⦁ PET for Amyloid: This scan demonstrates the accumulation of amyloid protein in the brain.
⦁ PET with FDG: This scan demonstrates how efficiently brain cells use glucose. A decrease in glucose absorption is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Can we Prevent Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is not a preventable condition. But with a number of lifestyle changes, it can be modified. Changes in diet, exercise, and habits — steps to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease — may also lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-causing disorders.
The following are some examples of heart-healthy lifestyle choices that may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s:
⦁ Regular physical activity,
⦁ Eating a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fresh products, healthy oils, and low-fat foods, and
⦁ Following treatment guidelines for hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
How Can We Treat Alzheimer’s?
There’s no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Although your doctor might recommend medications and other treatments to help ease your symptoms and delay the progression of the disease for as long as possible. Medications and treatments for behavioral changes:
There are no disease-modifying drugs for Alzheimer’s disease, but some options may help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.
Cholinesterase inhibitors are medications that can help with cognitive symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, altered thought processes, and judgement issues. They improve brain communication and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.
Three commonly used drug as per Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval to treat these Alzheimer’s disease symptoms are:
⦁ To treat mild-to-moderate stages, galantamine (Razadyne) and rivastigmine (Exelon) are used.
⦁ To treat all the stages, donepezil (Aricept) is used.
Another drug, memantine (Namenda), has been approved for the treatment of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease. There is also a combination of memantine and donepezil (Namzaric) available.
Treatments for Emotions and Behavior
Alzheimer’s disease-related emotional and behavioral changes can be difficult to manage. Irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, sleep problems, and other difficulties may become more prevalent. Treatment of the underlying causes of these changes may be beneficial. Some may be medication side effects, discomfort from other medical conditions, or hearing or vision issues.
People can cope with changes by identifying what triggered these behaviors and avoiding or changing these things. Changing environments, new caregivers, or being asked to bath or change clothes can all be triggers. Changing the environment or identifying triggers and staying away from them can often help to overcome obstacles and improve a person’s comfort, security, and peace of mind.
In some cases, a doctor may prescribe other medications to relieve these symptoms, such as:
⦁ Antianxiety medications, and
⦁ Antipsychotic medications (to treat hallucinations, delusions, and aggression).
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease presented with memory loss and cognitive decline caused by a buildup of plaques and tangles in the brain, as well as cell death. As Alzheimer’s disease symptoms worsen, people struggle to remember recent events, reason, and recognize people they know. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may eventually require full-time care.
Alzheimer’s disease is now at the forefront of medical research. Researchers are working to learn as much as they can about Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. It is hoped that improved understanding will lead to new treatments. Many potential approaches to prevent this condition are currently being researched.
To get more familiar with the management of Alzheimer’s disease, you can find Preventive Alzheimer’s Disease Clinical Trials near you. You can also participate in research if you are a caregiver for someone who is suffering from this condition.
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