Alzheimer`s Disease (AD) is one of the most common of the dementing illnesses.
Aprogressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain, causing impairedmemory, thinking and behavior. A person with Alzhiemers Disease may experiencepersonality and behavior changes, impaired judgment, confusion and difficultyfinishing thoughts, following directions or even finding the right word to sayin a conversation. Once advanced the sufferer may require a caretaker as dailychores become very difficult to accomplish. Evidence points toward amyloid asone of the main causes for the occurring cytotoxic processes. Researchers havefound that degeneration appears to be caused by interference with intracellularcalcium homeostasis via activation of calcium channels, intracellular calciumstores, and further production of free radicals by calcium-sensitive enzymes. The glutamatergic system seems to be involved in mediating the toxic processes.Order now
In the brain, the nerve cells in the part that controls memory and thinking aredamaged, this interrupts the passage of messages between communicating cells. The cells undergo distinctive changes, these are called neuritic plaques (groupsof degenerating nerve cell ends) and neurofibrillary tangles (groups of twistedfilaments which accumulate in previously healthy nerve cells). The cortex (usedfor thinking) of the brain shrinks, the spaces in the center of the brain becomeenlarged causing reduction of the surface area in the brain. Symptoms of ADusually occur in older adults and are the ones most at risk, although people intheir 40s and 5Os may also be affected.
The symptoms include a loss ofintellectual capacity, loss of language skills which may include having troublefinding words, poor or decreased judgment, problems with abstract thinking,disorientation in place and time, changes in mood or behavior and changes inpersonality. AD does not discriminate, it affects any race, socio background orsex equally. The classic symptom of forgetfulness is part of the normal agingprocess and usually begins in early middle age, however, normal forgetfulnessdiffers from Alzheimer’s Disease in many important ways. The cause ofAlzheimer’s Disease is not exactly known.
Suspected causes undergoing researchare neurological damage, chemical deficiencies, viruses, environmental toxinsand malfunctions in the body’s disease defense systems and genetics. There isalso evidence of a slightly increased risk of heridity of AD amongst children,brothers and sisters of patients with this disease. It is also important to notethat AD can only be diagnosed 100% after death through an autopsy of theaffected subjects brain tissue. About a third of autopsies turn up a differentdiagnosis and thus family members are encouraged to ask for an autopsy as acontribution to the study of the disease and about the genetics of AD.
There isno single clinical test for AD. It is usually diagnosed by ruling out all othercurable or incurable causes of memory loss. A positive diagnosis of this diseasecan only be made by microscopically studying a small piece of brain tissue afterdeath. The cerebral cortex of an Alzheimer sufferers brain will havecharacteristic abnormalities such as cells marred by plaques and tangles.
Aworking diagnosis can be made though through various testing procedures thatinclude a complete physical as well as neurological and psychologicalexaminations. At this time there is no definite cure or treatment for AD,although there are many suppliers of products which claim to help sufferers, butthe products are more like over-priced placebos with no documented evidence ofalleviation of the illness amongst sufferers, but glutamate receptor-selectivedrugs, some antioxidants, nitric oxide synthase inhibitors, calcium channelantagonists, receptor or enzyme inhibitors, and growth factors promise futurehelp in curing this disease. Combinations of drugs that act at different levelsmay also prolong the sufferers life/health. People diagnosed with Alzheimer’sDisease can live anywhere from 2 to 20 years after memory loss symptoms start tosurface. It shortens the sufferers expected life span, but through appropriatecare and medical attention the patients oftenlive for many years. Death can’tusually be predicted until the end stages where symptoms are nearing theirworse.
Some patients in late or terminal-stage Alzheimer’s tend to lose weightand have difficulty swallowing, difficulties with bladder control, walking andtalking. They are also known to curl into a fetal position. Sufferers most oftendie through a series of repeated infections such as bladder infections orpneumonia. Although the following estimations are from American literature, asexplained earlier we know that AD has a more or less universal effect amongstthe populations, ratio wise. Alzheimer’s afflicts approximately 4,000,000Americans and it’s estimated that one in three of us may have a relative thatwill suffer from this degenerative disease.
More than 100,000 die annually whichmakes AD the fourth largest cause of adult death in the US. It is also a verycostly disease monatary wise in that about half of the patients in nursing homeshave this illness with an estimated $80 billion spent annually on the care of,diagnosis, treatment, etc. People who suffer from AD often require 24-hour careand supervision, this is mostly provided by family and friends in a home. BibliographyBliss T. V. P Collingridge G.
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38 248-258 * Disterhoft J. F et al (1994) The calciumrationale in aging and Alzheimer’s disease Calcium Hypothesis of Aging andDementia, Annual Academy of Science. N. Y.
New York 382-405 * Holschier,C (1998)Neurobiology of disease, Academic Press 5 121-159 * http://www.ahaf.org/alzdis/about/adabout.htm* http://www.alzheimers.com/ * http://www.zarcrom.com/users/yeartorem/index4.htmlHealth Care