According to Dr. William C. Shiel Jr., “Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a slowly progressive disease of the brain.” As Dr. Shiel pointed out, the patients of AD often suffer memory loss as well as problems with reasoning, planning, language, and perception but all these impairments usually happen gradually.
Older people especially those over the age of 70 are more at risk of having Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, studies show that 50% of people who are 85 and above are affected with this illness. However, an article entitled ‘What is Alzheimer’s?’ posted on Alz.org stated that it would be wrong to assume that Alzheimer’s is a normal part of aging. Age is not the only factor in acquiring this kind of disease. For example, a person’s genetic make-up may have something to do with this too.
According to the article ‘What is Alzheimer's disease? Causes, symptoms and treatment’ on Medical News Today, Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease which means over a certain period of time, a person’s brain cells gradually die. Due to these brain cells dying, there are fewer nerve cells as well as connections in the person’s brain, causing the brain itself to shrink.
Researches show that autopsy of patients who died of Alzheimer’s disease revealed tiny inclusions in their brain’s nerve tissue. These inclusions are called plaques and tangles. Both types of inclusions are connected with protein. Plaques are caused by build-up of Beta-Amyloid protein while Tangles are caused by the disintegration of Tau protein.
Scientists however, still cannot explain how exactly Plaques and Tangles cause Alzheimer’s disease. Ongoing researches are being made as of present time to explain the underlying processes to this particular illness.
There are several factors that put a person at risk of having Alzheimer’s disease. Some of these are unavoidable while some can be prevented by having some lifestyle changes such as modifying a person’s diet.
The unavoidable risk factors include age, genes and gender. As stated before, Alzheimer’s is more common among older people with 85 year old people and older placed at a higher risk. Regarding genes, those who have family members afflicted with Alzheimer’s are at a higher risk than those who have no family history of such disorder. Also, a person who is born with genes associated with Alzheimer’s, such as apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene, is three to eight times more at risk. It was also found out that women are more in danger of having Alzheimer’s than men.
Factors that can be avoided are lifestyle disorders or disorders that are acquired due to a person’s diet or habit. These disorders include diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Prior head injury can also be a possible risk factor as well as problems with sleeping such as sleep apnea or difficulty in breathing while sleeping.
1. A decline in the ability to remember or retain information
A common example of this symptom is a person having to repeat a previous conversation as if it didn’t take place at all. Another example is repetitive misplacing of personal items.
2. Experiencing difficulty in reasoning, in completing simple tasks or in making judgment
An example of this symptom is the inability to make a sound decision or understanding safety risks.
3. Worsened visuospatial abilities
For example, there are no problem with the eye itself but the person is unable to recognize faces or objects even if these are in his or her direct view.
4. Impaired speaking, reading and writing:
For example, a person’s is unable to recall common words while speaking or he or she performs increased writing errors such as problems with spelling or grammar.
5. Changes in personality and behavior
For example, mood swings occur to a person who used to have a good temperament. A person with Alzheimer’s may also be easily irritated or they can be completely apathetic.
Currently, there is no definite cure to Alzheimer’s. The best that professionals can do is to provide treatments to the symptoms of the disease.
Of course as the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’ so doctors and scientists from different places and time tried to come up with methods to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
One of these prevention methods is brain exercise. An article by Dr. William C. Shiel Jr. documented studies which states that participation in leisure activities such as reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments, and dancing can be attributed to a reduced risk of dementia.
Another method is having enough exercise and modifying a person’s diet. An article by Dr. Mercola emphasized replacing carbohydrates intake with healthy fats such as organic butter from raw milk, clarified butter, olives, organic virgin olive oil and coconut oil, nuts like pecans and macadamia, free-range eggs, wild Alaskan salmon, and avocado. The article also suggested moderately incorporating high-quality protein in the diet. According to the article, vitamin D is also important because it influences the expression of more than 913 genes and thus, it is necessary to have enough exposure to sunshine.
Shiel, William C. Jr., MD, FACP, FACR. “Alzheimer's Disease Facts.” MedicineNet.com: We
Bring Doctors’ Knowledge To You. MedicineNet, Inc., 5 Dec. 2013. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.
“What Is Alzheimer's?” alz.Org. Alzheimer's Association, 2014. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.
“What is Alzheimer's disease? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment.” MedicalNewsToday.
MediLexicon International Ltd, 1 Nov. 2013. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.
Shiel, William C. Jr., MD, FACP, FACR. “Dementia Prevention: Brain Exercise.”
MedicineNet.com: We Bring Doctors’ Knowledge To You. MedicineNet, Inc., 16 April
2008. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.
Mercola, Joseph MD. “How to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease—A Neurologist Speaks Out.”
Mercola.com: Take Control of Your Health. Dr. Joseph Mercola, 29 Sept. 2013. Web. 16