•Amyloidosis is a relatively uncommon set of diseases, caused by a gradual gathering of amyloid in a person’s organs, usually the nervous system, heart, liver and kidneys. Amyloid is an irregular protein structure that is produced within a person’s bone marrow. •Alzheimer’s disease is the single most common type of amyloidosis and is a progressive disease that alters one’s memory, as well as other significant functions of the brain.
The hippocampus, which is integral in the formation of new memories is effected in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Research has found that the volume of the hippocampus is decreased by over twenty percent in the cases of Alzheimer’s patients. •Alzheimer’s is also the main cause of dementia, a series of impairments that culminate in the loss of cognitive abilities. In frontotemporal dementia, a patient’s eating habits are often disrupted, due to the a deterioration in the hypothalamus.
According to an article published in the Lancet on 30 April 2011, entitled “The three stages of Alzheimer’s disease”, at the turn of this century, there was reportedly 24 million people living with dementia across the globe, the majority of which are believed to have Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to increase to over 80 million in approximately the next 20 years. Patients experience trouble remembering people’s names and may also notice that they’re starting to forget the names of familiar places or objects, more often than they once might have. It’s quite important to note also that it’s perfectly normal to forget an acquittance’s name, or to run an errand now and again, but if it begins to impact adversely on routine daily life, this may be a sign of an underlying condition such as Alzheimer’s, or mild cognitive impairment. -They may begin to call things by the incorrect name and are afterwards not conscious of the fact that they’ve done so. -Alzheimer’s patients may also place items in unusual locations.
For example, when unpacking the shopping bag, a person may place toothpaste in the oven, and then later have no recollection of doing so and subsequently be unable to find the object. -Repetition is another significant sign of Alzheimer’s. A typical scenario may be them asking the same question repeatedly, due to the person forgetting that they’ve already asked the particular question. They may ask what day it is several times everyday unknown to themselves. – Confusion, increased anxiety levels, loss of self-confidence and fearfulness are also very common in the early stage Alzheimer’s patient.
– Exercising poor judgement skills and finding it difficult to make decisions in most, or possibly all aspects of life, is also symptomatic of Alzheimer’s. The neurophysiological damage to the frontal lobe, an area involved In reasoning & planning, has a causative role in these symptoms. – Wandering around aimlessly is another indicator of the disease. They may also become confused in a well-known environment and question how they got there and why they are there. – Low mood & differences in personality are 2 main symptoms of Alzheimer’s also. Neurophysiological changes in the amygdala cause this. -Taking considerably longer to perform routine everyday duties is often seen in Alzheimer’s. Once relatively easy tasks to the patient, like for example running errands, or doing mental sums, become increasingly laborious.
– Forgetting or confusing dates & times on quite a regular basis, & not recalling them until some time after, or perhaps not remembering them at all, is also symptomatic of the disease. This impacts on a person’s day to day living as they may forget to attend multiple appointments & family functions, & may also notice they’re making mistakes in their job. •Aphasia- Patients encounter significant difficulties when speaking and also greater challenges in interpreting language, both aurally and whilst reading. Difficulty with writing can also occur, with agraphia being among one of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. Misspellings, written and oral grammatical errors and a general decline in one’s ability to articulate themselves are all classical presenting symptoms of Alzheimer’s. In fact, the examination of writing skills has been shown through studies, to be a suitable means with which to assess what stage of dementia a patient is at.
•Sleep disturbances – The pathophysiological effects of Alzheimer’s on the brain is believed to alter the sleep/wake cycle. In the first stage of the disease, people with Alzheimer’s may sleep excessively & often awake confused. In the later stages of the disease, people with Alzheimer’s sleep much less and at irregular intervals, often dozing in and out of sleep during the day and throughout the night. •Hallucinations, events characterized by the apparent perception of someone or something that’s not actually there, often increase in severity as the patient’s condition declines. •Patients, according to the Alzheimer’s Society UK, often encounter visuospatial difficulties such as finding it difficult to negotiate steps and in maneuvering objects. •At this middle stage, patients also have a decline in their ability to focus on a series of tasks, or concentrate on a book or the storyline of a television programme for example. •In the third stage of the disease, the symptoms experienced by the patient increase in severity and hence, become increasingly distressing for the person to cope with on a daily basis. •Delusions, as well as hallucinations may occur more frequently, and the patient may also become increasingly agitated & disorientated even at home and amidst local surroundings.
They may also act in a violent manner during episodes of hallucinations, in which they hear or see things which are not actually present. Delusions, when people begin to believe things that are not true, are more common than hallucinations. •Other prominent symptoms classified by the NHS as part of the later stage of the disease are aphasia, dysphagia, substantial unintended weight loss, urinary incontinence and a dramatic decline in both short and long term memory. Sadness, apathy and frustration are also experienced by the patient. •Alzheimer’s patients at this stage also become very feeble, and often struggle to stand up, walk and dress themselves. •According to the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK, people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease live approximately 8-10 years after the early stages of the disease present itself. •In the third stage of the disease, the symptoms experienced by the patient increase in severity and hence, become increasingly distressing for the person to cope with on a daily basis.
•Delusions, as well as hallucinations may occur more frequently, and the patient may also become increasingly agitated & disorientated even at home and amidst local surroundings. They may also act in a violent manner during episodes of hallucinations, in which they hear or see things which are not actually present. Delusions, when people begin to believe things that are not true, are more common than hallucinations. •Other prominent symptoms classified by the NHS as part of the later stage of the disease are aphasia, dysphagia, substantial unintended weight loss, urinary incontinence and a dramatic decline in both short and long term memory. Sadness, apathy and frustration are also experienced by the patient.
•Alzheimer’s patients at this stage also become very feeble, and often struggle to stand up, walk and dress themselves. According to the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK, people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease live approximately 8-10 years after the early stages of the disease present itself. •Age is the principle risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s.
The risk of the disease increases substantially after the age of 65, and a person’s chance of developing dementia increases twofold every ten years after the age of 60. Moreover, over 30% of patients are over the age of 85. Early onset Alzheimer’s can also occur in a person’s 40s & 50s. Furthermore, a medical research finding published by the Feinberg School of Medicine in the Northwestern University, Chicago, found an accumulation of protein amyloid deposits in the brains of some deceased young adults, of 20 years old. Such a finding is highly indicative of the preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
•Smoking is related to a broad spectrum of illnesses, particularly many forms of cancer and heart disease, as well as Type 2 diabetes. Studies have also concluded that smokers are placed at over a 40% greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, when compared with non-smokers and ex-smokers. Additionally, research has shown that ex-smokers can lower their risk of Alzheimer’s by quitting smoking. •Diabetes- Multiple medical studies have also established a very strong correlation between patients with Type 2 diabetes, and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Further research suggests that Type 2 diabetes patients are at two times a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s, compared with those without diabetes. •Hypercholesterolemia and hypertension have both been established as risks for the development of Alzheimer’s disease, particularly vascular dementia, due to the damage to the blood vasculature. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that multiple studies have established the strength of the heart-head connection, given that the heart is the principle organ supplying blood to our brains.
Hence, any pathology of the heart, or indeed the circulatory system in general, can also cause damage to the brain and it’s cognitive function. Such research has shown that tangles and plaques are more likely to trigger the development of Alzheimer’s, if damage to the brain’s blood vasculature has also occurred. •Obesity and lack of exercise has also been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and thus healthcare professionals recommend daily exercise and a balanced healthy diet, with the inclusion of fruits and vegetables, to help ward of dementia.
A study carried out by Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago found that a daily serving of green leafy vegetables prevents cognitive decline with age and facilitates memory preservation. Vegetables such as kale and spinach are particularly beneficial to brain function due to their high Vitamin K content. Another study carried out by the University of Manchester, UK, found that eating purple coloured fruits such as blueberries, may prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. This is due to the fact that it absorbs detrimental iron compounds within the body, by a method of detoxification. •A correlation has also been established between depression and dementia, although the research currently is quite conflicting about whether depression is a risk factor for dementia, or rather a symptom of the early stages of this progressive disease. Patients, especially during the first and second stages of Alzheimer’s disease may feel isolated and anxious. They often withdraw socially, find it difficult to maintain focus and their thought process and rationalization skills may be altered.
• People who have sustained either a severe head injury, or repeated head injuries are also at greater risk of developing dementia later on in life, particularly if the trauma occurs on more than one occasion, or if loss of consciousness occurs. Medical investigations suggest this may be due to the deposits, which accumulate in the brain as a result of a head injury, perhaps playing a role in causing dementia.