What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a medical condition wherein there is memory loss and cognitive decline caused by death of brain cells. This disease can progressively worsen and can bring about neurodegeneration later on. In people with Alzheimer’s disease, the total brain size may shrink and the brain tissue may have progressively fewer nerve cells and connections. In Alzheimer’s disease, there are plaques that are found between the dying cells in the brain due to the buildup of a type of protein called beta-amyloid. There are also neurfibrillary tangles which result from the disintegration of another protein called tau.
Not all people are prone to develop Alzheimer’s disease. These risk factors may either be unavoidable or avoidable. Unavoidable risk factors include older age, family history of the disease, inheritance of a certain gene called the apolipoprotein E or APOE gene and being female. Avoidable risk factors include diabetes, high cholesterol levels, hogh blood pressure levels, low educational attainment, low occupational attainment, prior head injury, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and the use of estrogen hormone replacement therapy. In early onset Alzheimer’s disease, the symptoms may start between the age 30 to 60 years old and affects people who have a family history of it.
Alzheimer’s disease may give rise to several signs and symptoms which are related to the progression of the disease. The patient with Alzheimer’s disease may have worsened ability to take in and remember new information. He or she may repeat questions or conversations, misplace personal belongings, forget events or appointments and get lost on a familiar route.
There may also be impairments to reasoning, complex tasking, and exercising judgment. The patient may have a poor understanding of safety risks, inability to manage finances, poor decision-making ability and inability to plan complex or sequential activities. There is also impairment of visuospatial abilities such as the inability to recognize faces or common objects or to find objects in direct view, and inability to operate simple implements, or orient clothing to the body. The patient may also have impairment of speaking, reading and writing. There may be difficulty in thinking of common words while speaking. There may also be changes in personality and behaviour such as mood changes, agitation, less interest, less motivation, apathy, social withdrawal, lack of empathy and compulsive or obsessive behaviour. These changes may have a gradual onset over months to years and may be marked by a worsening of the person’s level of cognition on various areas.
Cocoa Extract May Prevent Alzheimer’s disease Progression
A recent study has shown that a certain cocoa extract called Lavado has the ability to reduce damage to nerve pathways seen in Alzheimer’s disease patients’ brains long before they develop symptoms. This study was done by Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published June 20 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD). This study used mice which were genetically engineered to mimic Alzheimer’s disease and the results showed that Lavado cocoa extract prevents the protein ?-amyloid- (A?) from gradually forming sticky clumps in the brain, which are known to damage nerve cells as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.
This Lavado cocoa is composed mainly of polyphenols which are antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. These polyphenols where long studied to prevent degenerative diseases of the brain. Lavado cocoa was said to be the most effective in both reducing formation of A? oligomers and reversing damage to synapses in the study mice.
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