Causes of Alzheimer's
Information On The Causes of Alzheimers
Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive neurological disease that slowly destroys neurons and intellectual abilities. Thereby, it impedes social and occupational functioning when the disease becomes more severe. It slowly hampers the ability to carry out even the simplest tasks and the causes of Alzheimers is still not known.
Alzheimer’s disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer who, together with Dr. Emil Kraepelin, studied this disorder in 1906 in Frankfurt, Germany. It is the most common cause of dementia among older people. Dementia is defined as the loss of cognitive functioning to such extent that it affects the person’s daily life and activities. This disease is also known simply as Alzheimer’s or Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer Type (SDAT). The first symptom usually appears after age 60.
Although many intensive researches have been carried out to further discover the underlying factors of this disease, scientists are still baffled about the real causes of Alzheimers. It is sometimes tricky to diagnose this disease because each patient has unique signs and symptoms. It is clear to scientists though that it develops because of a complex series of events that take place in the brain over a long period of time. Usually, damage to the brains begins as long as 10 to 20 years before any problems are apparent.
It is important to know the characteristics of Alzheimers to have a basic understanding of it causes. Alzheimers disease is characterized by a build-up of proteins beta-amyloid in the spaces between nerve cells and tau that accumulates inside the nerve cells. These plaques and tangles block nerve cells to communicate with each other, making it difficult for cells to survive. Although this theory cannot be determined in a living person, massive autopsy studies have revealed the existence of this phenomenon. Most people develop these plaques and tangles as they age, but people with Alzheimer’s develop far more than those who do not have the disease.
Further studies also uncovered several risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors have been linked to the causes of Alzheimer’s. Because each person has different genetic make-up and lifestyle, it can be stated that the causes of Alzheimers can also differ from person to person.
Age – Advancing age is the number one risk factor for developing this Alzheimers. After age 65 the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s doubles every five years. Although this disease predominantly affects older people, some younger people have also been known to develop the condition.
Genetics – People who have close relatives with Alzheimer’s have a slightly higher risk of developing it themselves.
Down’s Syndrome – Because of an extra 21-chromosome, which contains a protein that exists in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s, people with Down’s Syndrome have a larger amount of this protein than others. This puts them at a greater risk of developing the condition.
Gender – A higher number of women develop Alzheimer’s than men. It is a known fact that women live longer than men and the risk of developing this condition increases with age. This could partially explain this finding. However, as in men, the real causes of Alzheimers in women is still unknown.
Lifestyle – New research suggests that one’s lifestyle affects the cognitive decline and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Scientists are still investigating associations between cognitive decline and certain chronic disease such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
The medical world knew little about the causes of Alzheimers up until a few years ago. Yet scientists have made important advances to expand the knowledge of brain function in older people. Presently, many scientists and physicians are continuously working together to untangle the bizarre issue that ultimately gave answers to the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. This effort will bring us to the day when we will be able to manage and possibly prevent the occurrence of this devastating condition.
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