Alzheimer Disease its Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments, Scientific Research and Effects


Alzheimer’s Disease its Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments, Scientific Research and Effects






Alzheimer’s disease is a sickness that affects not only the patient but also their loved ones as well as their caregivers. This paper focuses on Alzheimer’s disease, its causes, and the symptoms or signs. Besides, it touches on how the Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed as well as how it’s treated. In addition, it will also trace the course and complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease and its effects to the family members and the caregivers. Lastly, it will also look at the scientific research in Alzheimer’s disease.


The brain is made up of about 100 billion nerve cells, which are referred to as neurons. The brain performs tasks such as thinking, learning as well as remembering, besides, it helps us to hear, smell, see and in locomotion. Alzheimer’s disease in addition to other types of dementia manifests itself when there are a growing number of neurons that deteriorate and die (Tufts University, 2010).

There are over seventy different forms of dementia. The four most common cases are vascular Dementia (VaD), Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB), Frontemporal Dementia (FTD) and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), Creutzfeldt- Jakob Disease (CJD) (Terry, Phillip, & Michel, 2009).

Alzheimer’s disease was discovered by Dr. Alois Alzheimein and his colleague Emil Kraepelin in 1906. Dr. Alois Alzheimeinand was a German Psychiatrist as well as neuropathologist. The two did a surgery of the brain of a patient who died of the disease and noticed various phenomena that had not been documented before. Chief among them is a shrunken brain (Lu & Bludau, 2011). Besides, there were a couple of atypical structures that appeared in the brain which are identified as plaques and tangles. They are mainly suspect of damaging and killing of nerve cells reflected in Alzheimer’s disease. Plaques made up of deposits of a protein portions, beta-amyloid, mesh which are twisted fibers of another protein; which is called tau. Most scientists believe these proteins somehow thwarts communication among the neurons or in some other way disrupt procedure that cells need to survive on. The role played by tangles in Alzheimer’s disease is still not clear to the researchers (Tufts University, 2010).

This disease is common among older people and as one gets older, so does the chances of acquiring the disease increases. Alzheimer’s disease is more likely to occur at the age of 65 years or more. The chances of getting the disease then doubles after every five years as from 65 years. At 85 years, the chances of acquiring the disease are half or fifty percent (Tufts University, 2010).

Causes of Alzheimer’s disease

Since its discovery, Alzheimer’s disease has several causes that have been suggested over the years. There are, however, some causes that have some controversies for instance heavy metals like mercury. Chemical exposure has been floated as a possible cause of the disease. The current research is yet to come up with a single most cause of the disease. Nevertheless, the contemporary opinion is that Alzheimer’s disease is a complicated progression that involves a lot of factors that have an effect on the brain over a long duration of time. It is worth noting here that Alzheimer’s disease is not hereditary however, the risk of developing the disease is increased with a history of the diseases in one’s genealogy (Lu & Bludau, 2011).

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease:

i.Memory lapses that interrupt daily life activities.

ii.Inability to make a plan and solve problems.

iii.Inability to complete familiar tasks at home for example bathing and eating.

iv.Forgetfulness and inability to manage time and having problems locating objects.

v.have problems with spatial relationships and visual perception.

vi.Problems in spoken in addition to written language.

vii.Frequently misplacing things and inability to remember their whereabouts.

viii.Unsound judgment ability.

ix.Withdrawn; as they interact and socialize less actively.

x.personally change as well as mood swings.

xi.Problems in performing abstract thinking

xii.Inability to initiate tasks or processes of daily life.

The course of Alzheimer’s disease

There are seven stages in the course of the disease. Stage one is called the normal stage which is normal situation where one experiences just normal forgetfulness and this is not what is reflected by those suffering from the disease.

The second stage is called normal aged forgetfulness. This stage is characterized by what is normally experienced by people who are over the age of 65 years. People of this age and above have reported decreased memory which is normal.

The third stage id the mild cognitive impairment; is characterized by slight deficits. Such people cannot perform their duties normally.

Fourth stage is called the mild Alzheimer’s disease. This stage is where the diagnosis of the disease can be done more accurately.

The fifth stage is called the moderate Alzheimer’s disease; at this stage the individual is experiencing major characteristics such as inability to select a dress to put on.

The sixth stage is called the moderate severe Alzheimer’s disease; characterized by compromised ability to do the activities of daily living, besides, the individual experiences emotional changes.

Lastly, the seventh stage is called severe Alzheimer’s disease; characterized by inability to speak, poor memory, and solely relies on caregivers for help (Reisberg, 2011).

Diagnosis of the Alzheimer’s disease

There are several steps that are involved in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. First there is what is described as Mini-Mental State Examination which is the assessment of the cognitive aspect of an individual. It involves the evaluation of one’s memory, delays in remembering, as well as delay in representation of objects as drawing.

The second step is the evaluation of attention which involves trail making and/ or digit-span. In addition, there is language evaluation, which involves Boston naming and executive functions which are aimed at the assessment of linguistic abilities. An individual is evaluated on the digit span and trail making; verbal fluency is examined (Miltiadis, Patricia, & Ernesto, 2009). .

There is also clinical test that involves neurological examinations and laboratory tests. Besides, there is a test done using a collection of test. This is called CERAD test; which is used in most parts of the world. CERAD developed certain standardized tools to assess a range of symptom of the Alzheimer’s disease. These contain clinical neuropsychology, behavior rating scale for dementia, family history interviews and evaluation of service needs (Miltiadis, Patricia, & Ernesto, 2009).

Lastly there is multicriteria model that was designed based on three tests that are in the CERAD. These are neuropathology, besides one’s clinical history is studied and cerebral vascular disease gross findings (Miltiadis, Patricia, & Ernesto, 2009).

Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

There is an increasing practice of using pharmacological treatment. This involves the use of cholinesterase inhibitors. This includes tacrine, galantamine, rivastigmine and donepezil. These inhibitors are used to treat only mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Nevertheless, some of these treatments are not fully recommended. For instance, tacrine; is likely to be hepatic toxicity (Bährer-Kohler, 2009).

Intake of vitamin E has been recommended by researches as well as physical exercise which have been attached to decreased chances of one acquiring of the disease (Tufts University, 2010).

Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease requires the application of a consortium of various therapeutic procedures for better improvement. Pharmacotherapy of Alzheimer’s disease is the application of three different cholinesterase inhibitors that are presently available. These are donpezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine. The three medications act on the same mechanism; that is the augmentation of cholinergic neurotransmission by inhibition of the cholinesterase. Rivastigmine and donepezil predominantly act on muscarini receptor of the cholinergic system (Bährer-Kohler, 2009).

Effects of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease has infected about 35 million people all over the world and it is the fifth chief cause of death among people of over 65 years. The death rate from the disease rose 46.1% from the year two thousand to the year two thousand and six. The disease has both social and economical implications. The cost of treatment and giving care for those infected is devastating. Besides, there are some costs which are not economic for instance those that do take care of the sick are unable to fend for themselves and there is psychological repercussion as well. There are notions that the disease might be genetically predisposing; so that it is likely to occur within a certain genealogy.

Scientific research in Alzheimer’s disease

The current research is geared towards understanding the reasons behind the occurrence of the Alzheimer’s disease. There are also attempts to find those who are more likely to be attacked by the diseases as well as improving the accuracy in which the disease is diagnosed. The research is also focusing on identifying those people who are highly predisposed to the attack. Further, there are attempts to finding out, developing and trying new treatment. Besides, there are efforts to discover treatments for behavioral problems associated with the disease (Chan, 2008).

Research is also focusing on improving the services of caregivers as well as discovering effective ways of helping family and friends members. These are meant to reduce the stress associated with giving care to the patients.

Caregivers are required to have knowledge of the disease so that their understanding of the disease is improved so that they can give the best care to the patients. Besides, they require counseling services to help them cope with the distress associated with the disease. They are advised to join support groups that can be used as platforms to champion for the rights of those are suffering from the disease. They also required to join social support and reducing family squabbles to help the caregivers understand the difficulties associated with care-giving to the infected (Reisberg, 2011).

The research has also focused on the prevention of the disease and to find a correlation that exist between certain life style, or drug usage which might mean less likelihood of being infected by the disease (Reisberg, 2011).


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