Alzheimer’s Disease: The Basics

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 18 March 2021

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s syndrome is a brain disease that causes individuals to lose their memories. People have a rough time recalling current incidents at first, but they can recall events from years past with ease.

Other signs can occur as time goes by, such as:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty carrying out ordinary activities
  • Increased confusion or frustration, more so at night
  • Dramatic mood swings – outbursts of anger, anxiety, and depression
  • Feeling disoriented and getting lost easily
  • Physical issues, such as an odd walk or poor coordination
  • Difficulty communicating

Alzheimer’s patients can forget their loved ones. They will lose their ability to dress, eat, and use the restroom.

The disorder causes the brain tissue to deteriorate with time. It typically affects individuals above the age of 65.

Alzheimer’s disease may affect an individual for a few years or even decades. More often, on the other hand, patients are more likely to live with it for around 9 years. The disorder affects around 1 of every 8 individuals over the age of 65. It is more prevalent in women than in males.

What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s syndrome affects people of all ages, but it is not a normal part of ageing. Scientists remain uncertain as to why certain individuals develop it and others do not. The effects it produces tend to be triggered by two forms of nerve damage:

  • Nerve cells get tangles, called neurofibrillary tangles.
  • Protein deposits called beta-amyloid plaques build up in the brain.

Researchers are not really sure what causes or how this harm occurs, but it may be a blood protein named ApoE (for apolipoprotein E), which the body uses to transfer cholesterol through the bloodstream.

A few forms of ApoE have been related to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s probable that certain varieties of it trigger brain damage. Some experts suggest it helps in the development of plaques in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains.

Whether ApoE is partially responsible for Alzheimer’s disease or not, genetics almost definitely play a role. A individual who has a parent who has the disease is more prone to experience it themselves.

There’s some proof that individuals with elevated blood pressure and cholesterol are more prone to experience Alzheimer’s disease. Head injuries, on the other hand, are an unusual cause; the more serious they are, the higher the chance of Alzheimer’s later in life.

Many of these hypotheses are still being investigated by experts, but it’s obvious that the two main trigger factors for Alzheimer’s disorder are getting older and having Alzheimer’s in the family.

Sources

Referenced on 2.3.2021:

  1. 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. (n.d.).
    alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs
  2. Alzheimer’s diagnosis. (n.d.).
    alzinfo.org/articles/diagnosis/
  3. Alzheimer’s disease. (2018).
    cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/alzheimers.htm
  4. APOE gene. (2018).
    ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/APOE#
  5. Diagnosis. (n.d.).
    alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/diagnosis
  6. Hebert LE, et al. (2013). Alzheimer disease in the United States (2010–2050) estimated using the 2010 census. DOI:
    10.1212/WNL.0b013e31828726f5
  7. How is Alzheimer’s disease treated? (2018).
    nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-medications-fact-sheet
  8. La Fata G, et al. (2014). Effects of vitamin E on cognitive performance during ageing and in Alzheimer’s disease. DOI:
    10.3390/nu6125453
  9. Medical tests. (n.d.).
    alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/diagnosis/medical_tests
  10. Treatments. (n.d.).
    alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/treatments
  11. Types of dementia. (2017).
    nia.nih.gov/health/types-dementia
  12. What is Alzheimer’s? (n.d.).
    alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers
  13. Younger/early onset. (n.d.).
    alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers/younger-early-onset
  14. American Association of Family Physicians.
  15. Alzheimer's Foundation of America.
  16. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  17. American Federation of Aging Research.
  18. American Health Assistance Foundation.
  19. https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/understanding-alzheimers-disease-basics

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