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Sporadic Alzheimer’S Disease: The Disease Of The Century

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Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease:

The Disease of the Century

Estimated about fifteen million people worldwide have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Some scientists believe that almost ninety percent of all Alzheimer’s disease is sporadic. Sporadic Alzheimer’s is a type of Alzheimer’s that either men or women of all ages can be affected, although most cases occur in people over 65 years of age. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a fatal disease of the brain that affects brain functions such as memory, ability to think, communicate and their speech. The disease changes a person’s personality and judgments and very quickly disables the person to perform basic tasks. It is said to be sporadic because there is no clear genetic cause for the illness.

The disease was first discovered by a German physician named Alois Alzheimer in 1906. Dr. Alois Alzheimer, noticed changes in the brain of a 55 year old woman who has died from a mental illness. The autopsy revealed dense deposits of plaques and tangles of disintegrating nerve endings. From his analysis he believed that it was a psychological disease. Scientists today are able to find the cause and the reason why people get AD.

The Alzheimer Association defines the disease as an “irreversible, progressive, brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest task” (Smith, et.al. 10). Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia (“a progressive brain dysfunction, that leads to a gradually increasing restriction of daily activities” (www.dementia.com), although all AD patients have dementia, but not all dementia patients have Alzheimer’s disease. The two forms of Alzheimer disease are Sporadic and Familial.

People with AD experience the disease in different ways. The difference depends on factors such as age, personality, physical health, family history, and cultural and ethnic background. The rate in which the disease progresses also depends on what stage you are in. The early signs or symptoms of AD are often noticeable although, most people with AD share common early symptoms such as forgetfulness.

Some other early stage symptoms, depending on the affected brain areas are memory lapses; AD patients intend to forget simple tasks and are unable to remember recent events. Language or speech is also affected with the disease. The symptoms affect and damage both left and right part of the brain depending what stage they are in. They have difficulty with word findings and carrying a conversation. People with AD also have poor judgments making them incapable in making decisions and are confused with their surroundings. Their behavior soon shows agitation and irritation.

A person with AD can go through at least three stages. The first stage or Mild stage is when patients show few signs of behavioral and mental problems. In this stage a person might not be completely aware of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but still manage to do everyday tasks and function normally. However, a person with mild AD is more forgetful, they intend to stick with daily routines and avoid entering new situations. Depression is also common at this stage and the affect of memory loss may lead to feelings and emotions such as anger, frustration, and helplessness which are feelings not usual to take out on others. These conditions should be evaluated and treated as soon as possible.

In the Moderate or second stage, the indication of Alzheimer’s disease is more noticeable. This stage is more of a behavioral and mental problems as well as going through more emotional changes. A person with AD behavior becomes more agitated, restless and stubborn and develops incontinence or is unable to be “incontinent of urine and feces”. Mental changes are more obvious and worse. It causes changes in memory, orientation, comprehension, judgments, concentration, general information and forms hallucination making the person to feel delirious. The person also goes through emotional changes, with emotions of fear, anger, frustration, sadness and depression. Since the person can no longer perform daily tasks they require attention and assistance with activities of daily living. Patients with mental illness need help with daily problems along with bathing, feeding, and dressing themselves.

In the last severe stage of Alzheimer’s disease the person comes to the point of not being able to think or do everyday tasks. They cannot communicate or recognize family members or themselves. A person in this final stage may eventually become bedridden. The person also has difficulty swallowing or chewing food which leads to the reason why they lose weight. As a result, a person could develop series of health problems; death itself is rarely Alzheimer’s cause.

The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, but researchers believe several factors that may contribute to someone developing the disease. Scientists have begun to create theories that the causes of AD are because of Chemical, Genetic, Autoimmune or immune system and Slow viruses.

Certain enzymes or chemicals called neurotransmitters acetylcholine carry impulses or messages trough synapse from one cell to another with which brain cells (neurons) are able to communicate. This specific neurotransmitter is found in the part of the brain that controls intellectual emotion. For this to act effectively an enzyme is produced by neurons in the brain. An enzyme is a type of protein that speeds up the reaction. Acetylcholine is one of the major messengers in the body which controls muscles contraction, hormone and probably memory skills. Alzheimer’s disease results because of lack of neurons which the brain is unable to produce. The effects of the shortage of neurons are the delays of messages transmitted to each cell. This is why memory loss is the outcome and one of the symptoms of AD in all stages. It has been proven that the more severe the symptoms of AD, the greater the loss of these enzymes activity.

Another chemical theory that scientists made is that AD is caused from toxic chemicals in systems. The toxic cause for AD is focused mainly on aluminum because of the dialysis of dementia patients; in both blood cleansing fluid and antacid used for dialysis patients, there is high concentration of aluminum in the blood. Scientists today do not know whether aluminum is the cause of cell damage or if it is the residue after the cell damage has occurred.

The most active research done today about AD is

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