Here are the top interesting facts about Alzheimer’s disease:
#1 It is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that causes dementia, which leads to a loss of cognitive abilities, including thinking, reasoning, and remembering. Also, individuals with AD gradually lose the capacity to remain independent and to care for themselves.
#2 Dementia actually describes numerous brain disorders that cause a gradual deterioration of the individual’s social relations and functional capacity and progressively lead to brain damage. Although it mainly affects seniors, it is not a normal part of aging.
#3 Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. In 1906, AD was first described by Alois Alzheimer, a German pathologist and psychiatrist.
#4 As the elderly population grows worldwide, more and more people are suffering from AD.
#5 In the United States, 10 percent of people age 65 and older have AD. People over age 85 have about 50% increased risk of developing AD.
#6 In the United States, approximately 5.5 million individuals of all ages have this progressive brain disease. It is estimated that more than 500,000 new cases of AD will be diagnosed this year in the US. An estimated 66 percent of Americans with AD are women.
#7 The cost of caring for people with AD in the United States is more than $240 billion per year. By mid-century, the number of patients living with AD in the US is projected to grow to about 14 million.
#8 About 44 million people worldwide are living with AD or a related form of dementia. This number is expected to nearly triple by 2050.
#9 This form of dementia is least prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. This may be due to the fact that low-income countries in Africa tend to have a lower life expectancy, hence, the reduced prevalence of dementia.
#10 It is the 5th leading cause for those aged 65 or older and the 6th leading cause of death among all adults.
#11 It seems likely that damage to the brain begins about 10 years before memory and other cognitive problems appear. Doctors call this the pre-clinical/pre-symptomatic stage.
#12 Occasionally, the symptoms are confused with other neurodegenerative conditions and may initially also be put down to old age. Symptoms usually include:
- an individual with this condition will start to make decisions that seem irresponsible, silly, or even inappropriate, like – dressing improperly for the weather or the use of language that seems very out of character as well as sexually disinhibited behavior;
- loss of recent memories, like – forgetting events and conversations which just happened;
- seeing objects in three dimensions or visuospatial problems judging distance. This leads to problems parking the car or navigating stairs;
- multitasking is also difficult, and it may be challenging to balance checkbooks, manage finances, and pay bills on time;
- vision problems can also happen to some patients. This includes increased difficulty in reading or having problems determining contrast or judging distance.
#13 It is not known precisely what causes this condition to start. Nevertheless, in the brains of sufferers with AD, doctors have found abnormal deposits of neurofibrillary tangles (containing tau), protein (amyloid plaques), and imbalances in acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter at synapses in the ganglia of the visceral motor system and neuromuscular junctions.
#14 Doctors are finding more evidence that some of the risk factors for stroke and heart disease, like – high LDL and total cholesterol, high blood pressure, sedentarism, less than 5 hours of sleep per night, smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcoholic beverages may also increase the risk of AD.
#15 Family history is also considered a risk factor, and having someone with AD in the family is strongly associated with higher risk.
#16 There also appears to be a connection between future risk of AD and serious head trauma, mainly when the injury involves loss of consciousness.
#17 This condition has no cure, therefore, the treatment is aimed to slow the worsening of dementia signs and symptoms as well as improve the quality of life for patients with AD and their caregivers.
#18 The drugs used to treat this type of dementia include the N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist memantine and the cholinesterase inhibitors (rivastigmine, donepezil, and galantamine). This treatment works better in the earlier stages of AD, thus, early diagnosis is important.
#19 Regular moderate physical exercise stimulates the brain’s capacity to make new connections, maintain old ones, and slow deterioration in people who have already started to develop cognitive problems.
#20 It is recommended to practice at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every seven days, though, the ideal is at least 90 minutes per day. Furthermore, the ideal plan involves a combination of strength training and cardio exercise. Good activities for beginners include swimming, cycling, and walking. Note – running is not for beginners.
#21 Get sufficient sleep because according to the latest findings, good sleep (around 7 to 8 hours per night) can help prevent AD.
#22 Avoid drinking large amounts of alcohol if you already consume alcohol and don’t start consuming alcohol if you don’t use it. Avoid smoking tobacco as well as second-hand smoking.
#23 Reduce your emotional stress levels by practicing mindfulness meditation.
#24 Avoid consuming cheese, butter, pastries, margarine, processed meat, and fried foods since these foods can cause inflammation level in the body and produce free radicals.
#25 Have a regular nutrition high in leafy green vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains since these are all packed with antioxidants.
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