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broad term that refers to the decline and impairment of memory, reasoning, language, and other cognitive functions

Alzhimer's Disease

a disease that destroys the brain's neurons, gradually impairing memory, thinking, language, and other cognitive functions resulting in an inability to care for one's self; most common cause of dementia

(beta-amyloid) plaques & (neurofibrillary) tangles

What are the two abnormal brain structures in patients with Alzhimer's disease?

(beta-amyloid) plaques

dense deposits of protein and other cell material outside and around neurons which interfere with the ability of neurons to communicate

(neurofibrillary) tangles

twisted fibers that build up inside the nuron and interrupt the flow of nourishment to the neuron

Alzheimer statistics

20-25% of seniors 80+ will develop AD, 400,000 new cases each year, 4-5 million Americans now diagnosed, late onset accounts for 95% of cases, early onset is rare

symptoms of AD

inability to recognize smells, decreased new memories, good social skills, dcreased verbal fluency, decreased visual-spatial ability, increased depression & irritability, and change in personality

genetic links for AD

risk to first degree relatives of someone with AD is at least 50% by age 90, concordance rate for identical twins is about 90%, early onset form correlated with defective genes on chromosomes 1, 14, & 21, late onset form correlated with gene on chromosome 19 with dangerous E4 allele, 20% of those with Alzheimer's don't carry the E4 allele on chromosome 19

neural abnormaility in AD

mild cognitive impairment is an early sign, atrophy and reduced energy consumption in endorhinal cortex, hippocampus, & cerebral cortex, acetylcholine-producing neurons begin to die, plaques begin to conver the cerebral cortex causing tissue death, tangles may be more closely related than plaques

treatment for AD

cholinesterase inhibitors (aricept and reminyl) prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine and can stabilize cognition, chemotherapy slows the pregression of the disease for 2-5 yrs, protocols are now on-going for a drug that may be beneficial, cognitive rehabilitation (speech therapy)

prevention of AD

cardiovascular care (diet, blood pressure control, anti-coagulants) and brain stimulation/mental activity through the liespan (learn a new language)

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