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Alzheimer’s Disease

What is it?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease of the brain that is characterized by dementia or loss of memory, behavioural changes, and loss of cognitive thinking, which eventually becomes severe affecting everyday simple tasks. The disease is named after Dr Alois Alzheimer who was the first person to notice some brain tissues changes like amyloid plaques (abnormal clumps) and neurofibrillary (tangled bundles of fibres) in a woman who died of an unusual mental illness. 

Signs and symptoms

  • Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is characterized by problems with memory that worsens with age, is typically one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The individual may forget his appointments, lose things more often, cannot come up with appropriate words while conversing with others, etc., however, they are still able to do their day-to-day activities independently at this stage. 

  • Difficulty in walking and maintaining balance.

  • Problems with vision, sense of smell, etc. 

  • Impaired reasoning

  • Difficulty in concentrating. 

  • Unable to recognize numbers.

  • Forgetting names of family and friends 

  • Unable to perform routine tasks.

  • Mood swings

  • Depression 

  • Irritability 

  • Social withdrawal 

If you are concerned about your memory or other thinking skills then consult the best hospital for Alzheimer’s disease treatment in Delhi NCR.

Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

  • Mild Alzheimer’s Disease: Due to the death of brain cells, the brain functions less efficiently. As the disease progresses, problems with memory and cognitive abilities worsen. The person tends to wander away from home and may lose his or her way back home, keeps asking questions repeatedly, cannot handle money, gets upset, cannot understand what others say, and takes longer than usual to complete a simple task. 

  • Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease: Due to complex brain changes, memory loss and cognitive difficulties worsen. In addition, language, reasoning, sensory processing, etc., are also affected. The person is confused, cannot recognize family and friends, cannot learn new things, impulsive behaviour hallucinates or sees things that are not there in reality, delusional or believes in things that are not real, paranoid or feels threatened, etc.  

  • Severe Alzheimer’s Disease: Due to the significant shrinking of the brain tissue and spreading of the tangled bundles of fibre and amyloid plaques around the brain, people become completely dependent on a caretaker and may become bedridden as the body gradually shuts down.    

Early-onset Alzheimer’s

Generally, Alzheimer’s diseases affect older people aged 65 years and over. However, sometimes it does occur in people under 65 years of age and is called early-onset Alzheimer’s or younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The disease progresses like the common Alzheimer’s disease that affects older people. Some people have genes that are directly linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and the symptoms start to show up as early as the 30s, 40s, or 50s. Early symptoms include forgetfulness, repeating the same thing, trouble paying bills on time, vision problems, poor judgement, social withdrawal, depression, mood swings, etc. If these symptoms are recognized during their early onset, the progression of the disease can be slowed effectively with medications, by managing the underlying medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, etc., regular physical activity, intake of a balanced diet, etc.  

Alzheimer vs other Dementias

While Alzheimer’s disease is specific, dementia is a general term used to refer to a decline in the cognitive ability of a person including memory loss, reasoning and thinking ability and includes Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia occurs due to brain cell damage that is associated with communication skills. Types of dementias include:

  • Alzheimer disease is a progressive degenerative brain disease characterized by memory loss. 

  • Vascular dementia includes problems of blood circulation to the brain because of stroke and can often coexist with Alzheimer's disease.

  • Lewy body disease occurs due to the death of brain nerve cells.

  • Frontotemporal dementia occurs due to progressive damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.

  • Alcohol-related dementia occurs due to excessive alcohol consumption and affects memory, learning and other mental abilities.  

  • HIV associated dementia is a complication of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease

To diagnose Alzheimer's disease your medical history is reviewed, and many tests are conducted to assess cognitive impairment, thinking skills, reasoning, behavioural changes, etc., and to rule out other potential causes of dementia. Your family and friends may also be interviewed about your behaviour.

  • Physical and neurological exam: Your doctor will examine your ability to walk across the room, sit on a chair etc. In addition, reflexes, strength, and tone of your muscles, maintaining balance and coordination are also checked to assess your neurological health.  

  • Blood tests: The blood sample is tested for vitamin deficiencies, thyroid disorders, etc., to rule out other causes of memory loss and confusion.

  • Mental status and neuropsychological testing: Your cognitive skills are evaluated using mental status tests and other extensive tests to evaluate the degree of cognitive impairment using the scores from the tests.  

  • Brain-imaging tests: Since Alzheimer's disease is a progressive degenerative brain disorder, this degeneration is assessed using brain scans (MRI, CT scan, PET scan, etc). Brain scans also help to rule out other causes of dementia such as stroke, haemorrhages, brain tumours, etc.      

If you observe any symptoms in a family member or friend then talk about your concerns with the neurologist at the best hospital for Alzheimer disease treatment in Delhi.

Treatment of Alzheimer's disease

Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease mainly focuses on slowing the disease progression, and management of cognitive impairment and improve the patient’s quality of life.       

  • Medications are used to treat mild to moderated Alzheimer’s disease and to maintain cognitive function and behavioural disorders. These medications reduce the progression of the disease, regulate neurotransmitters, and reduce behavioural symptoms. 

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors are used to improve neuropsychiatric symptoms like depression by boosting cell-to-cell communication.  

  • Memantine is used to boost the brain cell communication network and slows the progression of the disease. 

  • Supplements like vitamin E, Omega-3 fatty acids, melatonin, etc., may slow the progression of the disease and helps to manage symptoms like sleeplessness. 

  • Creating a supportive environment for a person with Alzheimer’s disease is very important. Adapting measures like installing sensors on doors, make sure the person takes his medications regularly, accompanying them when they go outside, arranging finances for the treatment, etc. are an important part of care. 

If you are looking for the best hospital for Alzheimer disease treatment in Delhi then consult Manipal Hospitals, Delhi.

Causes of Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease, which is a degenerative brain disorder, is believed to be caused by certain factors that affect the brain including environmental factors, genetic, and lifestyle changes. Very rarely, specific genetic changes are responsible for the disease. Underlying medical conditions like hypertension, stroke, diabetes, etc., may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The damage to the part of the brain that controls memory starts years before the onset of the symptoms.    

Risk Factors of Alzheimer's disease

  • Age: Alzheimer’s disease largely affects older people but is not a part of the normal ageing process. 

  • Family history: If your parents or siblings have Alzheimer’s disease then the chances of you getting is high. 

  • Down’s syndrome: People with Down’s syndrome may also develop Alzheimer’s disease and is linked to the extra copy of chromosome 21. 

  • Gender: More women are reported to have Alzheimer’s disease compared to men. 

  • Mild cognitive impairment (MCI): People with MCI have symptoms like memory loss and loss of thinking ability and have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Head trauma: A severe head trauma or traumatic brain injury especially in older people can cause dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The risk may be higher within 6 months to 2 years after the head injury.

  • Other factors like air pollution, alcohol abuse, sleeplessness, inactive lifestyle, etc., can speed up nervous degeneration, dementia, brain changes, and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

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