Overview

Dr. Alois Alzheimer. Image courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alois_Alzheimer_003.jpg

In 1906, a woman was discovered presenting with memory loss, confusion and personality changes, however a cause of these symptoms could not be diagnosed. After her death Dr. Alois Alzheimer observed abnormal changes in her brain, these abnormal changes are now known to be neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques, and are thought to be the cause of Alzheimer's Disease.

 

Alzheimer's Disease is a degenerative disorder of the brain; in time more parts of the brain become damaged and the disease worsens. It is the most common form of dementia, affecting over 465,000 people in the UK. Dementia describes a number of conditions that change the way the brain works. Alzheimer's Disease is characterised by losing the ability to learn new information and to recall previous knowledge. It is most commonly found in over 60 year old's, affecting 50% of people over the age of 85. However, there are cases where genetic mutations can cause an earlier onset of the disease. Alzheimer's Disease progresses dramatically taking over the patients mind, their control of bodily functions and eventually their life. Alzheimer's Disease is always fatal.

 

Symptoms of the disease include confusion, memory loss and language breakdown, with the severity of the symptoms progressing over time. As the disease progresses patients need more help and support, eventually needing care with every aspect of their lives. There are common symptoms of the disease but every patient is different, symptoms varying from individual to individual.

 

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer's Disease. However, there is ongoing research into what causes the disease and the possible treatments to cure it. It is believed that changes to the brain occur 10-20 years before the first symptoms of the disease are shown, but it is still unknown why these original abnormalities form.

 

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