According to Harvard Health Guide (2015), Alzheimers disease is a disease characterized by brain functions loss. A condition that becomes worse as time goes. The disease is a type of dementia. This disease does a lot of damage to the intellectual role of the brain. Short term as well as long term memories are the first to be affected, with short term being affected early. Later on, the other intellectual functions begin to deteriorate gradually (Drugs.com, 2015). Judgement becomes weak and damaged. Over time, a majority of the people with Alzheimers disease are unable to carry on with their daily activities.
According to various authors, Alzheimers disease is a usual disease that starts at the ages of 60 years. Young people are not affected much like the older people. According to Drugs.com (2015), scientists are not certain of what causes Alzheimers diseases symptoms. ADs patients are known to develop lots of two types of proteins inside their brains. These researchers believe that the excessive protein deposits are the causes of communication distortion between the cells in the patients brains. After altering the communication, the brain cells are eventually damaged. The cells wrinkle, contract and later die.
Increase in age has been known as one of the greatest risk factor for Alzheimers disease. This does not mean that everyone who ages must get Alzheimers disease, but after the age of about 60 years, Alzheimers disease is likely to begin affecting an individual. According to Drugs.com (2015), almost half of the individuals at eight five years of age have Alzheimers. There are people who have rare genetic changes who are guaranteed that they would develop the disease. According to researchers, these individuals start experiencing the symptoms of the disease at around thirty years of age.
Risk factors to developing Alzheimers disease.
The history of a family and genetics is also a risk factor to developing this disease. If one has a first-degree relative with the disease, then there are higher chances that that individual will develop this disease. According to mayoclinic.org (2015), scientists have found rare mutations that occur in three types of genes guaranteeing that every person who inherits them would affected by the disease. However, these mutations account for a small percentage of about 5 percent of the disease. Most of the genetic mechanisms among the families with Alzheimers remain unexplained. Apolipoprotein e4 (APOE e4) is the strongest gene that has been found by researchers. There are however other genes that have been identified by are yet to be confirmed.
Sex is a predisposing factor in most diseases including Alzheimers. According to research, women live longer than men and are therefore at a higher risk of developing the disease (Lu & Bludau, 2011).
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is another risk factor but not certainly. Mild cognitive impairment causes people to develop memory problems that become worse with age. MCI has not yet been diagnosed as dementia. Developing healthy lifestyles that compensate for the loss of memory may delay or completely prevent the progress of dementia (Lemere, 2013).
The other individuals who are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimers disease are those people who have had a severe head trauma in the past. According to mayoclinic.org (2015), evidences indicates that there are some factors that put one at the risk of a heart disease thereby increasing the chances of developing Alzheimers. Examples of such factors include: smoking, high cholesterol, poorly controlled diabetes, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, high homocysteine levels as well as consuming a diet less of vegetables and fruits (Lu & Bludau, 2011).. These factors also result to vascular dementia where blood vessels become damaged in the brain. A good plan to control these factors with the help of a health care team help to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimers.
The risks of contracting Alzheimers disease can be minimized by being engaged socially and lifelong learning practices such as high levels of education, frequent social interactions, a stimulating job as well as engaging in mentally challenging activities such as playing games, playing musical instruments as well as reading.
Etiology or source of poisoning
According to mayonic.org (2015), scientists have the believe that Alzheimers disease is as a result of particular changes in the genes, factors in the environment as well as lifestyle factors which affect the brain as time goes by. The causes of the disease are not understood fully but the effect of the disease on the brain is clear. The disease begins by damaging the brain cells and later kills them. When compared to a healthy brain, the brain affected by the disease has fewer live cells and less cell-to-cell connections. Death of more brain cells leads to a shrunk brain.
Examination of the affected brain tissue shows the following two types of abnormalities:
Plaques: These are protein clumps known as beta-amyloid that destroy the cells of the brains by obstructing the communication from one cell to the other. Though it is not clear as to why brain cells die in Alzheimers, the grouping of beta-amyloid outside the cells of the brain is suspected.
Tangles: Nutrients as well as other important materials are carried by an internal system to the brain cells. This transport and support system requires a structure with a protein known as tau. For individuals with Alzheimers, the tau protein threads twist abnormally in the cells causing the transport system to fail. This is also a prime suspect in the death and reduction of the brain cells.
Pathology of Alzheimers disease
According to mayoclinic.org (2015), the initial symptoms are the loss of short term memories followed by long term memory loss. The patients begin to forget information at a high rate. Mild confusion may also be among the only symptoms that can be noticed in the beginning. Worsening of the symptoms varies from one patient to the other. For some patients, the rate at which more symptoms become noticed is high, while for others noticing of more symptoms takes more time.
Before the people around the patient start noticing the symptoms, the affected individual is usually the first to begin realizing that he/she is having difficulties organizing thoughts as well as remembering certain things. In other cases, a patient cannot recognize that something is wrong with him/her even after the people around start observing the changes (Lu & Bludau, 2011).
Symptoms of Alzheimers disease
The changes that occur in the brain of a patient with Alzheimers disease causes memory problems. For a normal person, it is acceptable to experience memory lapses that are occasional. An individual may forget the name of the next door neighbor or the exact time that they left the house. However, for an individual suffering from Alzheimers, the memory loss persists to such an extent that the individual is unable to work or function at home and at the workplace (Lemere, 2013). The patients start by asking questions several times or repeat similar statements without the knowledge that they are repeating things. As the disease progresses, the patients begin forgetting appointments, events and even conversations. These individuals begin misplacing things by placing them at illogical positions. Eventually, they would not remember the names of the members of their own families or even things that they encounter daily.
Alzheimers patients disorient and misinterpret spatial relationships. They are unable to tell which day it is or even the previous and present seasons. They fail to recognize where they are located or even tell their own life circumstances. Sometimes the disease damages the ability of the brain to tell what is being perceived thereby making it difficult to understand the surrounding and the environment (Drugs.com, 2015). This is one of the main reason why AD patients get lost in familiar locations.
Patients with this disease usually have problems speaking and writing. The patients have difficulties finding the correct words to use for objects, to express their thoughts or even participate in conversations. Their ability to write as well as read declines with time.
Alzheimers disease interferes with the concentration as well as thinking. Abstract concepts such as dealing with numbers become challenging and it becomes difficult to manage finances, keeping track of bills and balancing of checkbooks (Lu & Bludau, 2011). In extreme cases, the patients cannot recognize numbers or even deal with them.
The patients cannot make sound judgements and logical decisions. Living life becomes challenging even with the most basic things such as unexpected driving or when food burns on stove. Performing familiar tasks and making plans becomes difficult. The patients are unable to conduct routine activities which require certain steps being followed like playing the favorite game, making a meal or even planning. According to Drugs.com (2015), Individuals with advanced Alzheimers disease lose memory of basic tasks like bathing and dressing.
The disease affects and changes the behavior and personalities of the patient making them depressed and anxious. Patients sometimes experience mood swings, irritability and aggressiveness, lost inhibitions, delusions, social withdrawal, distrust for others and changed sleeping habits.
According to mayoclinic.org (2015), most important skills such as dancing, telling stories, reading, enjoying music, engaging in hobbies as well as singing are rarely lost until very late. The main reason for the retention is the fact that skills, information and habits that are acquired early in life become the last abilities to lose as the disease progresses. Alzheimers patients can capitalize on them to continue succeeding and maintaining high quality lives even while they are in the moderate phase of the disease.
Tests and diagnosis
According to Medical News Today (2015), there has been no specific tests that confirm that an individual has Alzheimers disease. Doctors make judgements on whether the disease would cause symptoms from the information provided by an individual and from the results of several tests that are carried to clarify the diagnosis. According to WebMD (2015) and Drugs.com (2015), Alzheimers disease is completely diagnosed accurately after the death of an individual. This is possible because microscopic examination can be done on the brain to identify the characteristics of tangles and plaques.
Main diagnostic tests
The diagnostic tests that are usually carried out by the doctors to determine whether one is suffering from dementia include taking of an individuals history; conducting a physical examination on any signs of stroke, kidney disease or conditions of the heart; and checking the neurological function by testing the sense, balance and the reflexes (Lu & Bludau, 2011).
Depending on the doctor conducting the diagnosis, other diagnostic tests such as lab tests are conducted. Tests done on the blood help the doctor to rule out other known causes of loss of memory such as the deficiencies in vitamins and the disorders of thyroids.
The doctor may also conduct a brief mental status testing to asses thinking skills and the memory.
According to Medical News Today (2015), other tests that may be conducted include the cognitive tests, General practitioner assessment of cognition (GPCOG) test and the mini mental state examination (MMSE).
Sometimes, but very rarely, genetic tests can be done to indicate whether an individual might develop the disease. This is done on the APOE-e4 gene that is associated w...
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