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Alzheimer's Disease

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In this day and age, it seems as though almost everyone has experience a loved one taken away form a very serious disease known as Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is unbelievably devastating for everyone affected by it. This disease is causing major economical problems such as less occupancy in the nursing homes, and hospitals due to the rising population of elderly men and women being diagnosed with it everyday. Because there is not yet a cure for this disease and the percent of the population being diagnosed keeps rapidly rising, more time and money needs to go towards Alzheimer's research.

Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia which is a brain disorder that impairs mental functioning. Dementia attacks the part of the brain which controls memory, language, and thought. It makes everyday tasks like remembering to brushing your teeth, or to pay your bills next to impossible to do, which is why so many people who are diagnosed with this disease are in complete care. This disease has different phases, the first being slight forgetfulness and then the persons emotions may heighten as well as language impairment, violent outbursts, loss of bladder control and from there it keeps getting worse until complete dysfunction of the brain occurs and eventually death, which most of the time is the result of infection.

Alzheimer's disease got its name from the German doctor, Dr. Alois Alzheimer. In 1906, he noticed that there were abnormal clumps and bundles of fibers in the brain tissue of a woman who had this strange illness. Today, scientists have found many similar changes in the brain of people diagnosed with this disease. There are a reduced amount of neutrons in the temporoparietal, the hippocampus, the locus ceruleus, the substantia innominata, and in the temporoparietal part of the brain. Scientists have noticed the formation of plaques in a space inside the nerve cells. These plaques are a part of a protein that is called beta amyloid, also known as just "amyloid plaques". The tau in the brain, which is also a protein, deforms and collapses into these tangles called "neirofibrillary" that are caused by paired helical filaments. Neirofibriillary is said to look like it is made up of tiny bits of twisted string. The ventricles in the brain are enlarged, and the brain itself shrinks a noticeable amount.

It is important to understand that this is a disease and not a normal part of ageing. Alzheimer's disease rarely affects anyone under the age fifty. It usually starts in the mid sixties and lasts approximately seven to fourteen years, but can rarely last for close to twenty years. Statistics say that number of Americans who suffer form this disease is about five million and approximately another 360,000 is diagnosed a year. Five to ten percent of people sixty-five to seventy-five have this disease and almost fifty percent of people aged eighty and up may have this disease. Not a normal part of aging. Statistics say that these numbers are expected to double in the next twenty years and triple in the next 50 as seen in the chart below.

It is still not clear to scientists what caused Alzheimer's disease; however, scientists say that there are risk factors. Some risk factors family history and age. After age 65, people are very susceptible to the disease. People with Down 's syndrome disease are also at high risk.



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