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Alzheimer's Disease

22:14 EDT 19th September 2017 | BioPortfolio

Of all the types of Dementia, Alzheimer's disease is the most common, affecting around 465,000 people in the UK.

Neurons in the brain die, becuase  'plaques' and 'tangles' (mis-folded proteins) form in the brain. People with Alzheimer's also have a shortage of some the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, in their brains. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease. Symptoms include; memory lapses, aphasia, confusion and mood swings.

There may be a genetic background to Alzheimer's, particulary in the cases of early onset. This is being investigated by scientists. The ApoE4 gene variant is suggestive of a much higher chance of developing Alzheimer's disease. Other risk factors include injury to the head, smoking and high blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

The treatment for Alzheimers focuses on managing the symptoms, as there is currently no cure. Some medications increased the depleted supply of Acetylcholine, such as donepezil hydrochloride, rivastigmine and galantamine. Ebixa (trade name for the drug memantine) was launched in the UK in 2002, and is used in the moderate and severe stages of the disease. In addition to drugs, the antioxidant vitamins C and D may help.  Source; Alzheimer's Society, UK

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder in which the brain gradually degenerates. It most frequently occurs in people above 65 years of age. People with Alzheimer's disease develop distressing changes in memory, thought, function and behaviour, which worsen over time. These changes increasingly impact the person's daily life and reduce their independence until ultimately these patients are entirely dependent on others[viii].

Alzheimer's disease also has an enormous impact on the patient's caregiver. Most caregivers are close relatives who provide care at home — a demanding and exhausting role that represents a significant emotional and physical burden.

Worldwide, it is estimated that about 36 million people have dementia. With the shift towards an increasingly elderly population, it is predicted that the number of people affected by dementia will almost double every 20 years, and by the year 2050, 115 million people will have the conditionII, III. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 50 to 80% of these patients[ix].

The worldwide costs of dementia (estimated at around USD 600 billion in 2010) amount to more than 1% of gross domestic product (GDP).

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Useful Resources:

Factsheet 401, What is Alzheimer's disease?

Factsheet 405, Genetics and dementia

Factsheet 407, Drug treatments for Alzheimer's disease

Factsheet 426, Diagnosis and assessment

 

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