Anonymous
Anonymous asked in HealthDiseases & ConditionsOther - Diseases · 1 decade ago

What is Alzheimer's disease?

I want to know what alzheimer's disease does to your brain and how does it kill you?

Update:

I want to know what alzheimer's disease does to your brain and how does it kill you?

My mom is in the hospital because of it.

12 Answers

Relevance
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive cognitive deterioration together with declining activities of daily living and neuropsychiatric symptoms or behavioral changes. It is the most common type of dementia.

    The most striking early symptom is loss of short term memory (amnesia), which usually manifests as minor forgetfulness that becomes steadily more pronounced with illness progression, with relative preservation of older memories. As the disorder progresses, cognitive (intellectual) impairment extends to the domains of language (aphasia), skilled movements (apraxia), recognition (agnosia), and those functions (such as decision-making and planning) closely related to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain as they become disconnected from the limbic system, reflecting extension of the underlying pathological process. These changes make up the essential human qualities, and thus AD is sometimes described as a disease where the victims suffer the loss of qualities that define human existence.

    This pathological process consists principally of neuronal loss or atrophy, principally in the temporoparietal cortex, but also in the frontal cortex, together with an inflammatory response to the deposition of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

    The ultimate cause of the disease is unknown. Genetic factors are known to be important, and dominant mutations in three different genes have been identified that account for a much smaller number of cases of familial, early-onset AD. For the more common form of late onset AD (LOAD), only one susceptibility gene has so far been identified called ApoE4.

    Recent research suggests that the plaques might be results of microhaemorrhages due to damage of the capillaries in the brain; if that proves to be true then the treatment of the disease might change dramatically.

    At the present time there is no treatment to cure or stop the progress of this disease. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration has approved five drugs that may temporarily relieve some of the symptoms, they are:

    Donepezil (Aricept)

    tacrine (Cognex)

    galantamine (Razadyne, changed from the trade name Reminyl June 2005)

    Rivastigmine (Exelon)

    memantine (Namenda).

    There are a number of treatments and therapies that can help with sleep disturbance, agression, depression and other behavioral problems. Help is also available to maintain cognitive function over the short term and help that enriches lives of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

    There is a lot of research underway.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    Alzheimer's disease is a pregressive brain disorder that begins with memory loss and eventually leads to dementia and death.

    It targets a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is the seat of memory and intellect. In a person with Alzheimer's the neurons in the hippocampus become entangled. The resulting formations, often called plaque, result in the loss of brain cells, especially those that make new memories and retrive old ones. And memory problems characterise the symptoms of Alzheimer's.

    In the beginning stages of the disease, people will experience some mild memory problems. They may struggle with complex tasks like planning a party or balancing a cheque-book. As the disease progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to remember events that occurred very recently - say, the day before, or even just a few hours prior to the present time. Memory loss at this point looks more and more like dementia: affected people may not recognise others close to them or be able to recall appropriate words. Eventually, complete dementia sets in. Personal memories disappear and, with them, the ability to recognise beloved people and places. Functional memories also become irretrievable. The person forgets how to perform daily functions, which include getting dressed, brushing the teeth, and using the toilet. Hallucinations or episodes of violence often attend this stage of the disease. At this point, it is rarely possible for a family member or a close friend to look after the sufferer, who needs 24 hour a day care.

    As for how it kills you.. all I can say is that if you see the brain of a dementia sufferer after an autopsy, the thing has just turned to mush. A mushy brain can't run a body, I suppose.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    Sorry about your mom. My dad has it.

    Alzheimer's is a complex disease. Doctors are still working to find the exact cause; then they can find a cure. For now, all the medicines are simply symptom-treaters which slow it down but don't halt or cure it.

    Several things happen in an AD brain. First there is an over-accumulation of "plaque". This coats the neurons so they can't communicate anymore. The neurons die and become "tangles" which further inhibit other neurons from communicating, and they die and become tangles...meanwhile the plaque is everywhere...you can see the geometric procession of this. On an MRI doctors can see that the brain is shrinking (atrophying).

    Alzheimer's doesn't actually kill you. As more and more of your brain cells die, you lose your memories (usually the most recent ones first), it's hard to make new memories so you can't learn anymore, and you forgot how to do basic things. Eventually you forget how to eat. If someone feeds you, you don't know how to chew, you aspirate the food into your lungs and get pneumonia and die. Or if no one feeds you, you starve to death.

    Of course while you have AD you can also have any other disease. You can get a stroke, have a heart attack, get cancer, etc.

    Source(s): Alzheimer's Association: http://www.alz.org My Alzheimer's blog: http://alzheimersdad.blogspot.com
    • Login to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Sorry about your mother, but this is what I found on it:

    The most common form of dementing illness, Alzheimers Disease (AD) is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain, causing impaired memory, thinking and behavior. The person with AD may experience confusion, personality and behavior changes, impaired judgment, and difficulty finding words, finishing thoughts or following directions. It eventually leaves its victims incapable of caring for themselves.

    What happens to the brain in Alzheimers Disease? In AD The nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls memory, thinking, are damaged, interrupting the passage of messages between cells. The cells develop distinctive changes that are called neuritic plaques (clusters of degenerating nerve cell ends) and neurofibrillary tangles (masses of twisted filaments which accumulate in previously health nerve cells). The cortex (thinking center) of the brain shrinks (atrophies), The spaces in the center of the brain become enlarged, also reducing surface area in the brain.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    What is Alzheimer's disease?

    Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive disease of the brain that ischaracterized by impairment of memory and a disturbance in at least one other thinking function (for example, language or perception of reality). Many scientists believe that AD results from an increase in the production or accumulation ofa specific protein (beta-amyloid protein) that leads to nerve cell death. Lossof nerve cells in strategic brain areas, in turn, causes deficits in theneurotransmitters, which are the brain's chemical messengers.

    Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging and is not something thatinevitably happens in later life. Rather, it is one of the dementing disorders,which are a group of brain diseases that result in the loss of mental andphysical functions.

    Who develops Alzheimer's disease?

    The main risk factor for AD is increased age. As the population ages, thefrequency of AD continues to increase. 10 % of people over age 65 and 50 % ofthose over 85 have AD. The number of individuals with AD is expected to be 14million by the year 2050. In 1998, the annual cost for the care of patients withAD in the United States was approximately $40,000 per patient.

    There are also genetic risk factors for AD. The presence of several familymembers with AD has suggested that, in some cases, heredity may influence thedevelopment of AD. A genetic basis has been identified through the discovery ofmutations in several genes that cause AD in a small subgroup of families inwhich the disease has frequently occurred at relatively early ages (beginningbefore age 50). Some evidence points to chromosome 19 as implicated in certainother families in which the disease has frequently developed at later ages.-

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Arnoux
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive cognitive deterioration together with declining activities of daily living and neuropsychiatric symptoms or behavioral changes. It is the most common type of dementia.

    The most striking early symptom is loss of short term memory (amnesia), which usually manifests as minor forgetfulness that becomes steadily more pronounced with illness progression, with relative preservation of older memories.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive cognitive deterioration together with declining activities of daily living and neuropsychiatric symptoms or behavioral changes. It is the most common type of dementia.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can never really be certain in life. The only definite diagnosis can come from autopsying the individual’s brain after death. Five samples of tissue are taken from each hemisphere of the brain and studied under a microscope at 250x magnification. The number of senile plaques (an extracellular mass of dead and dying neurons surrounding a core of beta-amyloid protein) and neurofibrillary tangles (an intracellular tangle of microtubule fibers that leads to neuronal death) are counted and if they exceed a certain number specified by the individual’s age, diagnosis of AD can be made.

    During life, diagnosis is by process of exclusion. All other possible etiologies of dementia must be ruled out in order to diagnose the person with Alzheimer’s disease. According to Swihart, in order to be diagnosed in life, the individual must be older than forty years. The diagnostic workup includes a complete and in depth history documenting how the dementia started and that it has had a progressive course. A general physical examination, laboratory tests, neuro-imaging, and a lumbar culture are done to rule out any other possible causes of dementia. A neurological examination is also done to determine if the cognitive changes are focal or global. If they are focal, it is indicative of something other than Alzheimer’s disease. Some possible causes of dementia that are ruled out include drug overdose, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, vitamin B12 deficiency, normal pressure hydrocephalous, multiple strokes, tumors, chronic meningitis, and HIV. After these things are ruled out, the patient is sent for a neuropsychological workup. The neuropsychologist determines if the memory loss is more than would be normally expected for a person of that age, that depression is not causing a pseudodementia, and documents the dementia and that it is indeed Alzheimer’s disease and not something else.

    After a person has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he or she often wants to know what to expect for the future. Unfortunately, the course of AD is not a nice one. It begins in what is called the forgetfulness stage. The symptoms in this stage are usually mild and the person experiencing them may be the only one to notice. This stage is not usually functionally disabling; social skills and job performance is not significantly affected. The person may experience anomia (a word finding difficulty) along with mild language comprehension problems. Anxiety is common because the person realizes that there is a problem and that his or her memory loss is not normal. The length of this stage varies, but on average lasts from two to four years.

    The next stage of Alzheimer’s disease is commonly referred to as the confusional stage. It is during this stage that other people begin to notice that there is a problem. The individual may need help with completing daily tasks and higher level activities. Anomia is so severe that speech often becomes “empty,” losing meaningful content but not structure. Spatial problems develop making driving a risk. The individual may have decreased attention span and concentration and may have difficulty with orientation to person, place, and time. Anxiety and depression often decrease during this stage because the individual cannot stay focused on one train of thought long enough to remain depressed. This stage lasts an average of four years.

    The last stage of Alzheimer’s disease is the dementia stage. Individuals in this stage have such severe deficits that they require 24-hour supervision. They lose all memories of the past, can no longer recognize the faces of close family members and friends, and become so aphasic and anomic that they lose the ability to speak altogether. They often wander without purpose and can become easily lost in once familiar places. Motivation to eat, bathe, and use a toilet is lost. They may develop paranoia and hallucinations, become passive or agitated, and become socially withdrawn. Sensorimotor abilities are also impaired until they ultimately lose the ability to ambulate and become bedridden. Death is usually a result of pneumonia, sepsis, or urinary tract infection, among other physical complications that are a consequence of being bedridden. This stage lasts anywhere from six months to two years or more.

    There is not much positive information that can be given to an individual who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. There are some available medications that can slow the progression of the disease, but there is no cure and no medications are able to significantly improve memory or stop progression of the disease altogether. By simplifying the tasks and environment of a person with AD, he or she can be safer and maintain some level of independence for a longer time. The most important thing to teach family members caring for a person with this disease is to take care of themselves first. “Because they have neglected their own medical problems, caregivers often predecease a spouse who has dementia.”

    Source(s): Good luck with everything! Alzheimer's is a horrible disease, but with appropriate treatment, these individuals can live more independently for a longer period of time. If you are going to be caring for her at home, make sure to look for day respite services or ask other family members to help once a week so you do not get burned out. Also, an occupational therapist can help you to modify the environment and increase visula cues in the environment to increase her independence.
    • Login to reply the answers
  • WC
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Alzheimers is a form of presenile dementia due to atrophy of frontal and occipital lobes of the brain. Involves progressive and irreversibe memory loss, deterioration of intellectual functions, apathy,speech and gait disturbances, and disorientation. This disease is NOT fatal, it just makes you lose your mind ONLY.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago
    • Login to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.