Alzheimer’s. An overview of a rapidly growing worldwide health concern. 2008 marks the 102nd anniversary of a small medical meeting in Tübingen, Germany Physician Alois Alzheimer presented the case of Auguste D . Alzheimer first saw Auguste in 1901-- she was 51.
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An overview of a rapidly growing worldwide health concern.
2008 marks the 102nd anniversary of a small medical meeting in Tübingen, Germany
Physician Alois Alzheimer presented the case of Auguste D.
Alzheimer first saw Auguste in 1901-- she was 51.
Auguste plagued by symptoms that did not fit any known diagnosis:
*rapidly failing memory *confusion *disorientation *trouble expressing thoughts *unfounded suspicions about family & hospital staff
is a progressive and fatal brain disease.
is the most common form of dementia.
has no current cure.
Just like the rest of our bodies, our brains change as we age.
Most notice slowed thinking & occasional problems remembering things.
However, serious memory loss, confusion and other major changes in the way our minds work are not a normal part of aging.
They may be a sign that brain cells are failing.
Each nerve cell communicates with many others to form networks.
Nerve cell networks have special jobs.
Some are involved in thinking, learning & memory.
Others help us see, hear & smell.
Still others tell our muscles when to move.
They take in supplies, generate energy, construct equipment and get rid of waste.
Cells also process & store information.
Keeping everything running requires coordination as well as large amounts of fuel and oxygen.
In Alzheimer’s disease, parts of the cell’s factory stop running well.
Scientists are not sure exactly where the trouble starts.
But just like a real factory, backups and breakdowns in one system cause problems in other areas.
As damage spreads, cells lose their ability to do their jobs well.
Eventually, they die.
Stage 2: Very mild decline
Stage 3: Mild decline
Stage 4: Moderate decline (mild or early stage)
Stage 5: Moderately severe decline (moderate or mid-stage)
Stage 6: Severe decline (moderately severe or mid-stage)
Stage 7: Very severe decline (severe or late stage)
~while it’s the number one cause of death--heart disease--decreased by 8.0 %.
Average survival time: 4-6 years after diagnosis. ~but survival can be as long as 20 years from first symptoms.
There are now more than 5 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s.
Every 72 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s.
The direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias amount to more than $148 billion annually.
Average age of onset 65 -- some cases as early as 30
10 Warning Signs
1. Memory loss. Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common early signs of dementia. A person begins to forget more often and is unable to recall the information later.
What's normal? Forgetting names or appointments occasionally.
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks. People with dementia often find it hard to plan or complete everyday tasks. Individuals may lose track of the steps involved in preparing a meal, placing a telephone call or playing a game.
What's normal? Occasionally forgetting why you came into a room or what you planned to say.
3. Problems with language. People with Alzheimer’s disease often forget simple words or substitute unusual words, making their speech or writing hard to understand. They may be unable to find the toothbrush, for example, and instead ask for "that thing for my mouth.”
What's normal? Sometimes trouble finding the right word.
4. Disorientation to time and place. People with Alzheimer’s disease can become lost in their own neighborhood, forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get back home.
What's normal? Forgetting the day of the week or where you were going.
5. Poor or decreased judgment. Those with Alzheimer’s may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers on a warm day or little clothing in the cold. They may show poor judgment, like giving away large sums of money to telemarketers.
What's normal? Making a questionable or debatable decision from time to time.
6. Problems with abstract thinking. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are for and how they should be used.
What's normal? Challenging to balance a checkbook.
7. Misplacing things. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
What's normal? Misplacing keys or a wallet temporarily.
8. Changes in mood or behavior. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may show rapid mood swings – from calm to tears to anger – for no apparent reason.
What's normal? Occasionally feeling sad or moody.
9. Changes in personality. The personalities of people with dementia can change dramatically. They may become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful or dependent on a family member.
What's normal? Personalities do change some w) age.
10. Loss of initiative. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual or not wanting to do usual activities.
What's normal? Sometimes feeling weary of work or social obligations.
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Science Daily (Feb. 3, 2009) A Northwestern University-led research team reports that insulin, by shielding memory-forming synapses from harm, may slow or prevent the damage and memory loss caused by toxic proteins in Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers discovered that damage to neurons exposed to ADDLs (short for "amyloid beta-derived diffusible ligands") was blocked by insulin, which kept ADDLs from attaching to the cells.
<They also found that protection by low levels of insulin was enhanced by rosiglitazone>
ADDLs are known to attack memory-forming synapses. After ADDL binding, synapses lose their capacity to respond to incoming information, resulting in memory loss.
Red (left) shows the attachment of ADDLs to a nerve cell.
Green indicates synapses, parts of nerve cells where memory formation begins.
When ADDLs are attached, synapses are eliminated.
A nerve cell (right) treated with insulin before being exposed to ADDLs.
The cell is normal, with high levels of synapses (green) and almost no ADDLs (red) bound to it.