Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia; It is a physical disease that manifests in irreversible degeneration of brain tissue and nerve cells. It causes memory loss and affects judgment, language and cognitive abilities in general.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease which means that more parts of the brain are damaged over time, and more symptoms develop and worsen. The exact cause of this disease is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by an abnormal build-up of proteins in and around brain cells.
The severity and progression speed of Alzheimer’s disease varies from one person to another as some people retain a good level of functioning for a long time.
How does it affect the brain?
Alzheimer’s disease gradually destroys the connections between the brain cells, causing them to die eventually. The damage caused by this disease happens in different areas of the brain: damage to the hippocampus causes problems with the formation of new memories, damage to the frontal lope causes problems with judgment, intelligence, and behavior, damage to the temporal loop affects memory and damage to the parietal lobe affects language.
What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?
The most common sign of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss. Patients usually don’t notice that they have a memory problem, but their friends and family do.
Note: Normal memory problems people usually experience in their 60s or 70s are different from those caused by Alzheimer’s disease. For example, in normal memory problems, you may forget parts of an experience, a person’s name, or where you put your phone or parked your car. With Alzheimer’s disease, the patient would forget an entire experience, having met a specific person, or what their car looks like.
Alzheimer’s disease symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe, and they vary as the disease progresses. They may include:
- Difficulty remembering decent events while having a vivid memory of past events
- Difficulty recognizing people or objects
- Slow or repetitive speech
- Poor concentration
- Poor organization skills
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Difficulty making decisions, planning and sequencing tasks
How is Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed?
Our neurologist at Novomed offers a comprehensive diagnostic approach that includes running several tests to determine whether the patient’s symptoms are caused by
Alzheimer’s disease or another condition and determining the current stage of the disease. They will ask the patient about their health, do a physical exam, and ask them to do some simple tasks to test their memory and mental skills. Blood tests, MRI scans, and CT scans may also be used as part of the overall diagnosis process.
How is Alzheimer’s disease treated?
There is still no cure for Alzheimer’s disease; however, some medications and treatments can help maintain quality of life, reduce the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.
To manage this condition, the doctor and the patient’s family should work together to develop a care plan that may include any of the following:
- Medicines that help slow down the progression of the disease and make it more manageable. An example of Alzheimer’s disease medications is Aduhelm (Aducanumab); This FDA-approved drug is used in case of mild cognitive impairment; it targets the protein build-ups in the brain that lead to the death of neurons.
- Regular check-ups are required to make sure that the patient is responding to the medications, see if the symptoms are changing or progressing and provide guidance and education to the family.
- Assisting the patient in managing their own life while helping them feel as independent as possible.
To book an appointment with our consultant neurologist, call us on 800 (NOVO) 6686 or fill the form at the bottom of the screen.