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Alzheimer’s Disease – Definition, Causes and Risk Factors

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), also known as simply Alzheimer’s, is the most common form of Dementia – brain disorders that affect memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer’s disease is named after Alois Alzheimer, a German neuropathologist and psychiatrist who identified it in 1906.

People with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may have difficulty remembering things that happened recently or names of people they know. The symptoms become worse over time – it is a progressive disease. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, although there are ways to slow the advance and help patients with some symptoms.

Alzheimer’s is also a terminal illness – it is not curable and causes of death. About 23,000 deaths each year in the United States, making it the eighth leading cause of death in the elderly population.

According to the National Institute on Aging, there are about 2.4 to 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. People over 65 are most often affected by Alzheimer’s disease, where one in ten persons over the age of 65 years and nearly half of those aged over 85 have Alzheimer’s disease. However, Alzheimer’s disease can also occur in people aged 40 or 50’s.

Causes and Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s disease

Scientists are still trying to understand the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Research shows that the disease is associated with plaque (deposits of beta-amyloid protein that accumulate in the spaces between nerve cells) and tangles (deposits of tau protein that accumulate in the nerve cells) in the brain.

Although Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, but the major risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease is aging. In fact, most people with Alzheimer’s disease are over the age of 65 and the amount increased nearly half of those aged over 85.

Another possible risk factor of Alzheimer’s disease is genetic. Scientists have identified two types of genes associated with the risk of Alzheimer’s. The first, ApoE 4, it is expected to be a “risk genes” that increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, but does not guarantee it. The second is “deterministic genes”, much rarely than risk genes. If a deterministic gene is inherited, a person will develop Alzheimer’s, probably at a much earlier age.

Apart from age and genetic, research has shown that there may be other potential causes of Alzheimer’s disease, such as head injuries, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, scientists are constantly working to find a cure. These efforts bring us closer to the day when we will be able to controlled or even cured from this devastating disease.