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Alzheimer's Disease

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Alzheimer's disease facts

  • Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a slowly progressive disease of the brain that is characterized by impairment of memory and eventually by disturbances in reasoning, planning, language, and perception.
  • 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.
  • The main risk factor for Alzheimer's disease is increased age. There are also genetic risk factors and others.
  • There are 10 classic warning signs of Alzheimer's disease: memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, problems with language, disorientation to time and place, poor or decreased judgment, problems with abstract thinking, misplacing things, changes in mood or behavior, changes in personality, and loss of initiative.
  • 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.
  • Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed when: 1) a person has sufficient cognitive decline to meet criteria for dementia; 2) the clinical course is consistent with that of Alzheimer's disease; 3) no other brain diseases or other processes are better explanations for the dementia. Many other causes of dementia are screened for prior to diagnosing Alzheimer's disease.
  • The management of Alzheimer's disease consists of medication based and non-medication based treatments.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome characterized by:

  1. impairment in memory,

  2. impairment in another area of thinking such as the ability to organize thoughts and reason, the ability to use language, or the ability to see accurately the visual world (not because of eye disease), and

  3. these impairments are severe enough to cause a decline in the patient's usual level of functioning.

Although some kinds of memory loss are normal parts of aging, the changes due to aging are not severe enough to interfere with the level of function. Many different diseases can cause dementia, but Alzheimer's disease is by far the most common cause for dementia in the United States and in most countries in the world.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/20/2015


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