Alzheimer's disease

By Mo and Sean

General Explanation

The Alzheimer's disease is basically the slow deterioration of a person's brain and doesn't usually occur until the person starts reaching an older age. Unfortunately it is a progressive degeneration of the cerebral cortex which means that the disease is only going to get worse as time goes by. Even though the degeneration mostly occurs in the cortical which pertains to the frontal lobes of the brain atrophy is still occurring all over the cortex. Most of the time people who are born with APOE- epsilon 4 are at a bigger risk of getting this disease as well as people who are born with the abnormal mutation in either the PS1, PS2, or APP genes.

Symptoms

The symptoms for Alzheimer's starts out very mild with things like, forgetfulness and difficulty learning and retaining information. As the disease worsens, it indicates that the frontal lobe is starting to degenerate. These symptoms include, progressive difficulty in communication, severe deterioration of memory and motor skills, wandering, mood swings, and loss of control of the urinary and fecal excretion. Some of these more severe symptoms can lead to harm to the patient and others around the patient. Some interior symptoms include large deposits of protein called amyloid in the blood vessels. Also, atrophy occurs as the disease progresses and eventually leads to death.

Test and Diagnosis

Alzheimer's can't be detected until after the patient has passed. With that said, there are test that can rule out other diseases. The Positron emission tomography scan measures the metabolic activity in the cerebral cortex. This can help confirm early diagnosis. The next test is the computed tomography scan. This shows how the brain atrophies over time and if it's normal or abnormal. Next is the Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI. This test rules out intracranial lesions as a result of dementia. Since dementia and Alzheimer's are similar, this shows if it dementia or possibly Alzheimer's. The next test is an EEG. This shows how the brain waves are looking, but this test normally happens in the later stages of the disease. It can also help differentiate tumor and abscesses that cause symptoms. The next test is the CSF. This determines whether the symptoms stem from a different neurologic infection. Final, the last test is the cerebral blood flow test. This shows how the blood flow is to and from the brain. Since one of the symptoms is blockage of the blood vessels, this shows how the flow of blood is.

Treatment and Prognosis

Unfortunately there is no known cure for Alzheimer's disease but there are methods of combating this sickness and one of them is drug therapy. Patients are to take cholinesterase inhibitors which include donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine. These drugs prevent the break down of acetylcholine which is a chemical messenger that is essential for memory and other thinking skills. Even though the cells are dying or being still being damaged these drugs keep the acetylcholine high. There also another drug called memantine that seems to regulate the activity of glutamate, the glutamate is one of the brain's chemicals that works in storing, processing, and retrieving information. These treatments are pretty effective but unfortunately they only really delay the diseases' terrible affects. Unfortunately the disease progresses rapidly, meaning that as time goes one it gets worse quicker than before. The life span of people diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease ranges from 1 year after diagnosis to 26 years after diagnosis, it really depends on how well they take care of themselves and if they take the right medication. Usually patients respond well to the medication because it keeps them from losing there memory too quick but eventually the disease will catch up to them since it rapidly progresses.

Pathology

The disease itself causes increased and abnormal atrophy to the persons brain and nerve cells. In the brain, the disease causes neurofibrillary tangles in the neurons, beta-amyloid plaques, and degeneration of the neurons. As the neurons deteriorate, they stop producing acetylcholine. This is important because it helps the brain with memory and thinking skills.

History

Nearly 4.5 million people have Alzheimer's disease. This number has more than doubled since 1980. One in every ten people older than 65 have Alzheimer's and more than half of those people are affected by it. Dr. Alois Alzheimer had patient named Augusted had profound memory loss and other physiological changes. Durning the autopsy, he noticed abnormal atrophy in and around nerve cells. He is considered the founder of the disease.

Famous or we'll know suffer

Ronald Regan was one of the well know sufferers with Alzheimer's. He was president of the United States. Just 6 years after his presidency, he announced to the public that he had Alzheimer's. He did because he wanted to raise awareness about the disease.
Reagan Smash!!!