The causes of Alzheimer's disease are not fully known yet. In Alzheimer's disease, brain cells are deprived of nutrients, so they die and the brain deteriorates.
The causes of Alzheimer's disease
There is a misconception that everyone who ages will develop Alzheimer's Disease (dementia). Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative brain disease, meaning that it is a disease in which brain neurons are damaged (not a natural condition that occurs with age).
The formation of an abnormal protein in the human brain called amyloid plaques occurs, and these plaques (the protein that is formed) surround neurons in the areas of the brain responsible for memory.
This encirclement leads to the cutting off of food from the nerve cells and their loss of synapses with other nearby neurons. Over time, these encircled cells die.
Due to the encirclement and death of these cells, some of the chemicals that these cells secrete to communicate with each other are lost. These substances that are lost are called neurotransmitters.
The most important transmitter that is lost in Alzheimer's disease is acetylcholine, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for attention, memory and alertness, and with its loss we see the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
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Predispositions for Alzheimer's disease
Until now, the factors that are considered to be among the causes of Alzheimer's Disease have not been fully identified, but it is expected that the following are risk factors for Alzheimer's disease that lead to the formation of amyloid proteins (causes of Alzheimer's disease), which include:
The person's age progresses
People over the age of 65 are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease (this does not preclude the possibility of it occurring at younger ages), because it takes a long time for symptoms to appear in a patient.
That is, the gradual accumulation of abnormal proteins in the brain began a long time ago, and when death occurs to brain cells in a large amount, symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease begin to appear, meaning that aging may be one of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease in some people.
Family history and hereditary (genetic) factors
The presence of relatives in the family with Alzheimer’s disease increases your risk of developing it. Some genes have been found that are accused of transmitting the disease in the family from parents to children, but it is not a hereditary disease with certainty, but only increases the risk of getting the disease.
Among these genes is the APOE gene, which appears in some Alzheimer’s patients (the gene most responsible for the occurrence of the disease). The presence of this gene in an individual increases the risk of Alzheimer’s and is considered one of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease.
But its presence does not definitively confirm that a person may not develop Alzheimer’s. Also, its absence is not a sign of safety, as there are people with Alzheimer’s who do not have this gene.
Head injuries and trauma
Some studies say that severe head injuries may be one of the causes of Alzheimer's disease, meaning that a blow to the head may stimulate more mutant protein production, death, and Alzheimer's disease.
Due to chromosomal defects in the DNA of patients with Down syndrome, they accumulate mutant proteins in the brain matter, and thus Alzheimer's disease occurs, meaning that Down syndrome is one of the causes of Alzheimer's disease.
General health and diet
An unhealthy lifestyle are among the causes of Alzheimer's disease, according to recent studies, as lack of movement with lack of exercise and excessive fast food are among the causes of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, in addition to that:
- Chronic high blood pressure
- Elevated blood fats (especially cholesterol)
Some studies have indicated that deafness, depression, loneliness and isolation from society may be associated with an increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease at a higher rate than people who do not suffer from these diseases, meaning that they may be among the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, especially depression.
Alzheimer’s is known as a chronic progressive neurodegenerative disease, meaning that it affects the brain and causes irreversible damage, and its symptoms persist permanently without recovery (but can be mitigated or treated with medication after diagnosis).
Therefore, the disease does not occur suddenly, but rather gradually, and the symptoms worsen over time (progressive). Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are divided according to the stage of disease progression into early, medium, and late symptoms.
The pace of advancement is not always constant, as sometimes the patient may develop some diseases that exacerbate Alzheimer’s disease and accelerate the death of brain cells in a person who already has some causes of Alzheimer’s disease (affecting the progression and symptoms of the disease), among these diseases we mention:
Early symptoms of Alzheimer's
Early Alzheimer's begins with the patient forgetting some things, such as recent occasions or events, or a simple conversation that took place a few minutes ago. He also forgets where he put some things such as his keys or his hat.
The person with Alzheimer's disease also shows in the early stages poor ability to think, the ability to make decisions, difficulty in proper mental judgment, hesitation in doing things, in addition to his frequent questions.
Also, due to the death of brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease, changes in the patient’s mood make him confused, very anxious, nervous, and easily aroused.
Symptoms of middle stage Alzheimer's disease
With the progression of the disease, the patient becomes unable to recognize his friends and family members, or it becomes difficult to remember their names. His mood also becomes worse than before and varies between anger and depression.
The patient is not oriented to time and place, that is, he does not know where he is and what time it is now (morning or evening), and he has hallucinations (he sees things and hears voices that do not exist in reality).
He becomes obsessive and repeats things, and he has difficulty with proper pronunciation and the use of correct words understood. Sleep disorders are also common in this stage of Alzheimer's disease.
In addition, a person with Alzheimer's disease cannot estimate distances correctly. At this stage of the disease, it is preferable for a family member to take care of the patient.
Patients need people to help them in their lives to accomplish the usual tasks such as eating, dressing, or even going to the bathroom to defecate.
Late symptoms in Alzheimer's disease
These are the most severe symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, as the death of many brain cells with the progress of time leads to a severe decline in brain functions, and the patient becomes in need of complete care all the time (when eating or entering the bathroom, for example).
The patient's situation at this stage becomes very sad for his family and friends, so the intensity of his hallucinations and delirium increases, and he is unable to swallow food, move around the house, or even change his position while sitting.
In advanced Alzheimer's disease, he becomes unable to speak, and the patient loses a lot of weight, in addition to being unable to hold urine or stool (i.e., he does not go to the bathroom, but rather relieves himself in his place without realizing).
Alzheimer's disease is considered a brain disease that requires treatment, even if it is incurable, because treatment will improve the patient's symptoms and prevent him from the tragic complications of progressive Alzheimer's disease.
The average number of years of life for Alzheimer's patients varies due to the different speed of disease progression from one person to another and the time of diagnosis in relation to the stage of the disease.
However, an Alzheimer's patient is expected to live an average of about 10 years after diagnosis, (some patients die after 3 years due to the deterioration of their condition, and some of them survive up to 20 years because the disease develops slowly).
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