Alzheimer disease is a mysterious phenomenon that scares a lot of people because of their ignorance. However, knowing crucial facts protects you and gives you a weapon to fight the disease.
What is Alzheimer disease?
Alzheimer disease is classified as a psychological cognitive disorder that affects many brain functions and leads to the impairment or loss of cognitive abilities. It develops slowly and manifests itself mostly in old age. The probability of getting the disease increases after reaching seventy years, then doubles every five years.
How can it be recognized?
The problem with Alzheimer disease is that it is not often recognizable at the early stages when it still can be treated or delayed. Sometimes, people overreact and mistake usual signs of aging for this serious disease. It is considered normal for older people to have short term memory losses, such as forgetting where they put different things or what the name of their friend is. If such instances considerably worsen, it may be necessary to consult a doctor.
There are ten main symptoms that might indicate the onset of the disease.
- Serious memory loss. When the disease develops, the person forgets names, people, phone numbers, and all things recently learned such as driving a car or working with electronic devices.
- Problems with doing usual tasks. The person may forget how to perform basic routines such as eating or cooking.
- Language impairment. Those inflicted may forget specific words or expressions.
- Disorientation. In the case of special-temporal disorientation, the person forgets his or her own address or directions to familiar places.
- Problems with abstract thinking. Interpreting numbers becomes an impossible task.
- Misplacing objects, like putting a watch in the fridge.
- Frequent mood swings, from calmness to anger without any reason
- Worsened judgment.
- Changes in personality.
- Apathy, or loss of initiative.
What causes the Alzheimer disease?
The single true cause of Alzheimer disease is still unknown. There are, however, some factors that may possibly put you at risk. There may be genetic predisposition, mainly family history of the disease or having a potentially vulnerable apoE-gene. Gender (as women are more susceptible to the disease than men) and lower educational level (less than eight years of formal education) may also have an effect.
Is Alzheimer disease even treatable?
As there is no known reason for getting this disease, there is also no completely efficient treatment or medication available. It is recommended that medicinal treatment be combined with non-medicinal methods to achieve better results. In this case, non-medication based approach is mostly oriented around social support, providing opportunities for social interaction, and participating in different activities.
There are many different types of medications used to treat Alzheimer's symptoms such as antipsychotics, mood-stabilizers, and beta-blockers. However, all of these can only help ease the symptoms, and do not treat the disease itself.
Recently however, two new drugs were developed that bring hope of treating the disease completely. The first one is called BACE inhibitor. It is still under development, but even at the first stages it demonstrated the best results. The benefits include the reduced level of proteins that are responsible for forming plaque in the brain of a patient. During the experiment, 30 patients took the drug or a placebo for a week. Those who were on the highest doses of the drug experienced reductions in beta amyloids at almost 80 percent.
The second drug is aimed at reducing the damage created by microglial cells that cause inflammation in the brain. 96 patients took the drug or a placebo for the first 3 months. After that, the volunteers kept on taking the same dosage for a year and a half. The drug showed great benefits for the patients, working best in those carrying the APOE gene.