What is Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias?

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Alzheimer’s dementia is a slowly progressing brain disease associated with an increasing decline in mental abilities. As a result, among other things, disturbances of memory and behavior, as well as difficulties in doing everyday things, occur. 

Dementia is a condition in which cognitive function (thinking, memory, reasoning) and behavioral skills are lost, which interferes with human life and daily life. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must completely depend on others for the basic activities of daily living.

The causes of dementia can vary, depending on the types of brain changes that may be occurring. Other dementias include Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal disorders, and vascular dementia. People often have mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types of dementia. For example, some people have Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

How does Alzheimer’s disease affect the brain?

Image of brain slices showing a healthy brain and a brain with severe Alzheimer’s.Scientists continue to understand the complex brain changes involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Changes in the brain can likely begin a decade or more before memory, and other cognitive problems seem.

In this preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, people seem to have no symptoms, but toxic changes occur in the brain. Abnormal protein deposits form amyloid plaques and tau tangles throughout the brain. The damage appears to initially occur in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, parts of the brain essential for developing memories.

Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

Memory problems are often one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s-related cognitive decline. Some people with memory problems have a condition called mild cognitive impairment .) In mild cognitive impairment, people have more memory problems than usual for their age, but their symptoms do not interfere with their daily life. 

The patient may face movement difficulties and problems with the sense of smell have also been linked to mild cognitive impairment. Older people with mild cognitive impairment are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, it does not occur in all cases. Some can even return to normal cognition.

What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?

Scientists still don’t fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease in most people. In people with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the cause may be a genetic mutation.

 It may be caused due to a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. The importance of any of these factors in increasing or decreasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s can vary from person to person.

How is Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed?

Doctors use various methods and tools to help determine whether a person with memory problems has dementia. It is possibly due to Alzheimer’s disease (dementia may be due to another cause) or dementia probably due to Alzheimer’s disease (cannot find another cause of dementia). 

Perform brain scans, such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or positron emission tomography (PET), to rule out other possible causes of symptoms.

How is Alzheimer’s disease treated?

Alzheimer’s disease is complex, and it is unlikely that a specific drug or other intervention alone will treat it successfully. 

Current tactics focus on helping people maintain mental function, manage behavioral symptoms, and prevent specific problems, such as memory loss, from progressing rapidly.