Alzheimer's Disease

WEEKLY COMMUNICATOR (300 x 100 px) (200 × 100 px) (1)

FACTS

  • Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia and affects millions of people.
  • It is more common in women than men, and more common in African Americans and Hispanics than Caucasians.
  • AD is characterized by a progressive loss of memory, which interferes with daily tasks.
  • The following parts of the brain can be affected:
    • Hippocampus – Structure most important to the sorting and storing of memories
    • Temporal lobe – Responsible for conscious and long-term memory and interpretation of information from the senses
    • Parietal lobes – Important for the processing of memories
  • Plaques and tangles are thought to damage the brain’s nerve cells, interrupting communication between them.
    • Plaques – Clusters of protein that collect between brain cells
    • Tangles – Twisted strands or knots of brain cell

RISK FACTORS

  • Age – Patients are usually 65 years or older at diagnosis
  • Family history of Alzheimer’s
  • History of head trauma
  • Long-term illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease
  • Sleep disorders
  • Down’s syndrome

SYMPTOMS

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Loss of recently learned information
  • Difficulty finding words
  • Impulsiveness
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Getting lost in new places and eventually familiar places
  • Withdrawal from hobbies and social engagements
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Gradual progression of symptoms

DIAGNOSIS

  • Assessment through review of medical history and medications, observations during the appointment, and interviews with family or close friends
  • Physical and neurological exam, including memory test and depression screen
  • Lab studies, including blood count and glucose, thyroid, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D levels
  • A possible CT scan of the head or an MRI of the brain

TREATMENT

  • Currently there is no cure, but research is ongoing.
  • Memory medications can lessen the symptoms and improve quality of life.
  • Engage in healthy lifestyle activities such as exercise, a Mediterranean diet, new socializations, and limiting alcohol.

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