It is estimated that 5.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s-related dementia. A new person is diagnosed every 66 seconds. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but knowing your family history and the signs, can put you on the path to early intervention.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. Scientists believe that changes begin more than a decade before any impairments start to show. AD is a progressive and irreversible brain disorder that affects memory and other mental operations. There are two forms of AD in general. Early-onset AD occurs before age 55, while late-onset AD occurs after 60.
The first cognitive impairments that appear are memory issues. In this initial stage, the problems seem to be age-related memory loss that does not interfere with daily life. As the disease progresses, the memory loss worsens, people began to wander and get lost more often. They have difficulty paying bills and doing other everyday things. In the later stages, the brain has shrunk significantly, and they have trouble speaking, reasoning, and processing things. Some have hallucinations and paranoia. Eventually, they become solely dependent on others for care; they are bedridden most of the time as the body begins to shut down.
What Causes Alzheimer’s?
All of the pieces that cause AD are not yet known. Early-onset is caused by genetic mutation and runs in families. It is believed that amyloid plaques are one of the causes of AD since they appear in both early-onset and late-onset forms. These plaques change the brain by destroying the connections between nerve cells. Late-onset causes are still not well known.
How is it Diagnosed?
There are many methods for diagnosing AD. Your doctor will talk with your loved one(s), and memory, problem-solving, and attention tests may also be carried out. Blood and urine tests, as well as CT, MRI, and PET scans, will be conducted as well. These may be repeated as time goes on, but a probable diagnosis may take time since a portion of the symptoms shares similarities with other conditions. Unfortunately, a definitive diagnosis of AD cannot be made until after death, and the brain is studied.
Treatment, Prevention, and Clinical Research
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, so current therapies focus on managing mental function and behavior symptoms. Once a probable diagnosis is made, it is challenging to stop the progression of the disease.
Although it may seem like there is little hope for those with AD, 99% of late-onset cases can be prevented by changes to lifestyle and diet and taking dietary supplements.
Clinical research through volunteers helps develop more effective treatments and prevention opportunities. Those that have a family history of AD, dementia and even those without any history are all needed. The results from your data are used to determine the safety and effectiveness of a medication.
Many research facilities have joined the fight to cure Alzheimer’s by conducting clinical research trials. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and is interested in hearing more about our study opportunities at MyLocalStudy, click here.