Alzheimer’s Disease, Causes Including Current and Future Treatments

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Alzheimer’s Disease, Causes Including Current and Future Treatments

Tracy Adams

Gateway Technical College

Abstract

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive mental deterioration in old age that causes a severe disability for those affected and tremendous hardship on those that help and take care of those that are suffering from the disease. This illness has been recognized throughout history, but it was not specifically identified until 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer, from which the disease gets its name. It is caused by abnormalities in the brain, and current affects about 1 in 87 for a total of around 5 million people in the United States alone. It is defined as the most common of all neurodegenerative disease and accounts for about two-thirds of cases of dementia. The only real problem is that scientists are still trying to fully understand the cause or causes of Alzheimer’s disease. However even though they do not know the cause there has been many advances in the treatment of the symptoms. This leads them to hope that one day they may find a cure to the symptoms if not for the cause.

Alzheimer’s disease, Causes Including Current and Future Treatments

I looked for a disability that I would find interesting to learn more about. After about a day I started thinking about why focus on the disability itself but on a major cause of a major disability. Then I remembered how difficult it was when my Grandmother’s brother was diagnosed with the disease. At first it was fine but then as time progressed, it got to the point that he did not know is own children and grandchildren and just before his death did not even recognize his wife or his sister. Now I know that this is not a typical disability but the problems that it imposes on those that suffer from it are beyond compare and destroy their lives. This in my book has created a disability comparable with loss of function disabilities.

History

Mental deterioration during old age has been described in historical records. It was not specifically identified as a collection of brain cell abnormalities until 1906 by a German physician named, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, for which the disease is named. Dr. Alzheimer noticed that one of his patients that suffered years of severe memory problems had dense deposits surrounding the nerve cells (called neuritic plaques), during their brain autopsy. Inside the nerve cells he saw twisted bands of fibers (called neurofibrillary tangles). Today, when these two things are found during autopsy it confirms a definite diagnosis of the Alzheimer’s disease (AD). There have been many breakthroughs in AD research in the last 100 years. For example, in the 1960’s there was a link discovered between the cognitive decline and the number of plaques and tangles in the brain. It was during this time that the medical community recognized Alzheimer’s as a disease and not just a part of growing old. This started currently a 50 year push in the research of AD. As of today there are several drugs that have been approved to treat the cognitive symptoms that the disease creates. In addition, over the last decade there have been great strides to understand the potential environmental, genetic, and other risk factors that have been associated with AD, as well as the processes that lead to the formation of both the plaques and the tangles in the affected brain regions. Even with this progress today AD is still incurable. Current drugs on treat the symptoms, not the cause of the disorder, and even then they only slow the process, not stop it. Definition

Alzheimer's disease is defined as: A progressive neurologic disease of the brain that leads to the irreversible loss of neurons and dementia. Its clinical hallmarks are progressive impairment in memory, judgment, decision making, orientation to physical surroundings, and language. Currently a diagnosis of the disease is made on the basis of...
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