Alzheimer’s disease affects between 2.6 and 5.2 residents in the United States. According to the Alzheimer’s Disease International advocacy group, the frequency is calculated to quadruple over the next 40 years. It ranks as the sixth leading cause of fatalities in the US. It is suspected that inherited family genes, medical history, and advancing age are contributors to the disease, though the exact cause of it is unknown, and remains a mystery. It is a progressive disease that gets worse over time. Current research is making strides in studying this form of dementia with the hope of slowing down its progression. It is hoped that eventually it can be prevented.
What We Know About Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is a form of metal dementia that causes problems with behavior (personality), cognitive thinking, and memory. The symptoms usually progress slowly, and worsen over time. It can become serious enough to interfere and disrupt daily activity, tasks, and even conversation. Memory loss can be mild, but as time progresses nearly all the senses can be affected to some degree. Professor of biology, George S. Bloom from the University of Virginia’s College of Arts and Sciences, in conjunction with the professor of chemistry, Mario Geysen, PHD, have acquired a $100,000 grant to conduct their innovative research theories on Alzheimer’s disease. Their studies center around the study on a particular strain of antibodies, suspected of identifying the proteins inherent with Alzheimer’s. So far, they have identified a toxic strain of beta amyloid, a chemical found present in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. This toxic substance disrupts the production of tau protein, thus destroying nerve cells associated with certain brain activity. The program expects to find new potential drug formulas to combat the disease.
The life expectancy of Alzheimer patients varies, depending upon the severity, and medical condition of the patient. The general estimate is around eight years after contraction of the disease, but the range has been recorded from four to 20 years. Survivability depends upon how quickly the disease is detected, and the program of medicine and therapy used to treat it.
Suspected Causes of Alzheimer’s
The San Francisco VA Medical Center conducted a survey in 2011 and found some common risk factors in Alzheimer’s patients. Several determining factors, like smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity were contributors. Where the patient’s physical health was substandard, the occurrences were higher due to the decreased anti-body and hormone levels needed for biological maintenance. Mid-life hypertension (high blood pressure), and associated diabetes were two medical conditions that fostered contraction. Severe depression and anxiety were also frequent contributors to the onset of Alzheimer’s. Although not proven conclusively, it is suspected that genetic history of the disease in is more prevalent in Alzheimer’s patients. Multiple symptoms, in addition to advancing age, produce more severe complications and begins to affect other bodily functions.
Hope for the Afflicted
Catching the disease in its earliest stages has proven difficult, but current studies have been successful in isolating it after several tests to rule out other disease symptoms. There are some drugs available that will reduce, and slow down the dementia process, but the emphasis also involves changing the lifestyle with routines to better the patient’s health. The best treatments for slowing the process of Alzheimer’s disease includes increased physical activity, a non-smoking and non-drinking campaign, improved diet, and a concentrated effort to sustain a more stable and positive emotional lifestyle.
Today, there is a major effort to combat Alzheimer’s disease by informing the public about early warning signs, and self-treatment. People who have who have been suspected of contracting the disease, are encouraged to modify their behavior and lifestyle, which has proven to reduce the case numbers by a factor of 50 percent. Sufferers of the disease may be so limited in mobility, that it is often recommended they spend time doing physical therapy in assisted living home. Self modification and positive health maintenance can greatly reduce the symptoms, and in some cases, prevent the disease from even occurring.