Alzheimer's disease: symptoms, signs, causes, treatment
For the first time the psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer in 1906 described the disease, subsequently calling it his surname. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia developing in old age. Often in a domestic conversation, it is not quite correctly called senile marasmus.
As a rule, the ailment begins with minor symptoms, but progresses as time progresses. Causes of disorders that occur in the brain in this disease remain unanswered for more than 100 years.
In 2000, there were 12 million cases of Alzheimer's disease worldwide, and a gradual increase in the incidence of Alzheimer's disease is reported. As for sex, the ailment is twice as common in women as in men, which is partly due to the longer life expectancy of the fair sex.
The disease is able to progress and lead to death in a short period of time for only a few years, and for a long time - 20 years.
Causes of the disease
Why is Alzheimer's disease developing, and what is it? This is a pathological disease, regarding the reasons that research continues to be carried out. The majority of cases of the disease is sporadic in character with late onset( over 60 years) and unexplained etiology.
Alzheimer's disease is more common in people with low education, with unskilled occupations that are less susceptible to mental activity. According to most scientists, the disease is genetically determined. The development of dementia is due to the degeneration of cortical neurons and the limbic system of the brain, a violation of synoptic connections caused by the accumulation of oligomers of beta-amyloid and tau protein.
The gradual loss of functional brain activity, which is accompanied by Alzheimer's disease, is due to two major damages of the nervous system:
- 1) The brain accumulates protein, known as plaque formation.
- 2) Nerve cells are transformed into coils( neurofibrillary tangles).
In accordance with the most popular theory of the onset of Alzheimer's disease, insoluble amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles of tau protein are formed in the brain. The number of plaques and coils is steadily increasing, inter-neural connections are broken, the functioning of neurons and, ultimately, their demise.
While many of these theories are being tested for strength, it is clear only that the biggest risk factors for Alzheimer's disease are aging and family history. Both for prevention and control of the disease, it is often recommended to exercise, stimulate thinking and maintain a balanced diet.
Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease
Foto. Alzheimer's disease and its first symptoms appear usually after 60 years, it is rare to find the first signs in people from 40 to 60 years old. The youngest man who was diagnosed with this disease turned 28 years old.
There are two forms of the disease - sporadic, it accounts for 90% of the disease and the family, which begins at a younger age.
The very first and alarm bell for Alzheimer's disease is memory impairment - this is the main and first sign that you should pay attention to. This can manifest itself in the following moments:
- from the memory names of friends, relatives and recent events drop out.
- finding out one question many times.
- repeating one story word for word.
- inability to pay in the supermarket.
- person is able to get lost in a familiar environment.
- appear characteristic features in behavior - irritability, aggression, vagrancy, tearfulness.
Alzheimer's disease is divided into four clinical stages: premature, early, moderate and severe dementia. The last stage is characterized by complete apathy, although in some cases there may be aggressive manifestations. Sick people are exhausted both mentally and physically, and eventually stop getting out of bed and unable to perform the most ordinary actions.
Also read the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is very time consuming. We did not come up with yet another diagnostic method, with the help of which one could confidently state whether a given disease develops in a person or not.
One of the main directions of diagnostic search is the collection of anamnesis and complaints. The doctor will also take into account the history of the illness of other family members, especially if one of them is sick or has Alzheimer's disease or other similar disorders.
In order to exclude other diseases that can lead to the development of dementia, the doctor conducts a neurological examination, appoints additional examinations - magnetic resonance imaging of the brain, testing of intellectual functions, blood analysis, etc.
For neuropsychological tests, it is important to violate the eight functions - memory, speech, perception, constructive abilities, orientation in space, time, in one's personality, ability to solve problems of functioning and self-service. For this purpose, special questionnaires have been developed to determine this ailment.
See also: an interactive journey through the brain in Alzheimer's disease.
Treatment of Alzheimer's disease
There is no drug that can cure a patient suffering from Alzheimer's disease. All attempts at treatment are essentially palliative and can only relieve symptoms to a small extent.
Still, do not despair, because in this area are regularly conducted by various major pharmaceutical companies and medical institutions around the world.
The basis of treatment for Alzheimer's disease is the same as for other types of dementia. The most effective drug regimens include Memantine and anticholinesterase drugs.
At the initial stage, moderate efficacy was demonstrated with drugs with cholinesterase inhibitors. They are able to smooth out a little the manifestation of disorders of the nervous system. However, the use of cholinesterase inhibitors at this stage could not prevent or slow the development of symptoms. With severe dementia, donepezil can be administered.
Along with medications, psychosocial treatments for patients with Alzheimer's disease are also used. In stages of more severe dementia, art therapy, a sensory room, memories therapy, presence simulation, and communication with animals are used. Also, classes with psychotherapists are aimed at recognizing patients as objective reality.
It is important for relatives and friends to understand that the disease is responsible for the patient's illness, and not for the person and to show patience, learn to care for the sick, provide him with safety and comfort, nutrition, and prevention of pressure sores.
The menu of the sick person must include: fish and seafood, liver, bread and various cereals, olive and flaxseed oil, nuts. In addition, as long as possible, it is necessary to maintain the physical activity of the elderly person.
Although the rate of progression of the disease varies, cognitive decline is an unavoidable end. If you try to answer the question - how many live with Alzheimer's disease, then on average, after the diagnosis is made, the life expectancy is about seven years.
To date, there is no single and effective prevention of Alzheimer's disease. None of us is immune from the onset of this disease. Therefore, you need to start taking care of your health in your youth.
There are associations with the likelihood of developing the disease - this is a correction of the diet, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, intellectual load. Many doctors are inclined to believe that intellectual pursuits, such as reading books, developing board games, solving crosswords, regular communication, may be able to slow the onset of the disease or alleviate the manifestation of its symptoms.
In connection with the above, in order to prevent the development of Alzheimer's disease and slow down its course, it is strongly recommended to lead a healthy lifestyle, at any age stimulate thinking and engage in fitness.
Alzheimer's disease is a hereditary disease?
Many are worried about whether Alzheimer's disease is inherited or not.
It is believed that only a predisposition to disease is inherited. Therefore, it depends only on the person himself, whether the development of the disease will begin or will remain one of the risk factors.
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