ABOUT THE DISEASE
Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible progressive neurodegenerative disease that impairs memory and thinking and is often accompanied by mood swings, disorientation, and inability to carry out simple tasks. The risk increases with age, with symptoms first appearing in mid 60’s. It is the most common cause of dementia among older adults.
Alzheimer's disease is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the brain. An abnormal amount of protein (amyloid plaques) and fibres (tau tangles) has been found in the brain of these patients. These reduce the effectiveness of healthy neurons, gradually destroying them. Over time, this damage spreads to several areas of the brain, such as the grey matter (responsible for processing thoughts) and the hippocampus (responsible for memory).
There is no single diagnostic test for Alzheimer's.
Diagnosis is based on:- A thorough medical history- Mental status testing- Physical and neurological exam- Brain imaging such as PET Scan, CT Scan, SPECT Scan to rule out other causes of dementia
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease, although medications are available that can temporarily reduce some symptoms or slow down the progression of the disease. These include donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine and memantine. Psychological therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, and relaxation therapies along with regular exercise and healthy diet would be helpful.
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