Saturday, 6 January 2018

All About Alzheimer's Disease : Symptoms, Risks Factors

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Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Alzheimer's disease is a neurological disorder in which the death of brain cells causes memory loss and cognitive decline.
This is a neurodegenerative type of dementia in which the disease starts mild and gets progressively worse.
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In the US, the most recent census has enabled researchers to give estimates of how many people have Alzheimer's disease. In 2010, some 4.7 million people of 65 years of age and older were living with Alzheimer's disease in the US. The cause(s) of Alzheimer's disease is (are) not known. Although, accumulation of the protein amyloid in the brain is suspected to play a role. The likelihood of having Alzheimer's disease increases substantially after the age of 70 and may affect around 50% of persons over the age of 85. Nonetheless, Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging and is not something that inevitably happens in later life. For example, many people live to over 100 years of age and never develop Alzheimer's disease.

Risk Factors
However, some evidence suggests that the same factors that put you at risk of heart disease also may increase the chance that you'll develop Alzheimer's. The risk factors include:

  • Age : The main risk factor for Alzheimer's disease is increased age. As a population ages, the frequency of Alzheimer's disease continues to increase. Ten percent of people over 65 years of age and 50% of those over 85 years of age have Alzheimer's disease.
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Genetics : There are also genetic risk factors for Alzheimer's disease. Most people develop Alzheimer's disease after age 70. However, less than 5% of people develop the disease in the fourth or fifth decade of life (40s or 50s). At least half of these early onset patients have inherited gene mutations associated with their Alzheimer's disease. Moreover, the children of a patient with early onset Alzheimer's disease who has one of these gene mutations has a 50% risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Poorly controlled type 2 diabetes
  • Sex : Women seem to be more likely than are men to develop Alzheimer's disease, in part because they live longer.
  • Mild cognitive impairment : people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have memory problems or other symptoms of cognitive decline that are worse than might be expected for their age, but not severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia. Those with MCI have an increased risk  but not a certainty of later developing dementia. Taking action to develop a healthy lifestyle and strategies to compensate for memory loss at this stage may help delay or prevent the progression to dementia.
  • A diet lacking in fruits and vegetables.
  • Down syndrome : Many people with Down syndrome develop Alzheimer's disease. Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's tend to appear 10 to 20 years earlier in people with Down syndrome than they do for the general population. A gene contained in the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome significantly increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Past head trauma : People who've had a severe head trauma seem to have a greater risk of Alzheimer's disease.

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Symptoms Of Alzheimer's Disease
At first, increasing forgetfulness or mild confusion may be the only symptoms of Alzheimer's disease that you notice. But over time, the disease robs you of more of your memory, especially recent memories. There are many warning signs and symptoms. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.

1. Challenges In Planning Or Solving Problems : Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

2. Disorientation to time and place (for example, forgetting where they are, loosing track of the seasons, dates, and passage of time)

3. Memory Loss : One of the most common signs of Alzheimer's is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over, Increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g. reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

4. Poor Planning and performing familiar tasks : Once-routine activities that require sequential steps, such as planning and cooking a meal or playing a favorite game, become a struggle as the disease progresses. Eventually, people with advanced Alzheimer's may forget how to perform basic tasks such as dressing and bathing.

5. Poor vision : For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer's. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

6. Impaired speaking, reading and writing: "Difficulty thinking of common words while speaking, hesitations, Speech, spelling, and writing errors."

7. Misplacing Things : A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

8. Changes in personality and behavior, for example: Out-of-character mood changes, including agitation; less interest, motivation or initiative; apathy; social withdrawal
Loss of empathy, Compulsive, obsessive or socially unacceptable behavior.

9. Decreased Or Poor Judgment : People with Alzheimer's may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
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Author: Richard Smith