Alzheimer's disease is a condition that destroys brain cells. People with this disease slowly lose the ability to learn, function, and remember. It is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia is a loss in mental abilities that is great enough to interfere with daily life.
The cause of Alzheimer's is not yet known. Two factors that may play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease are:
People who are over 65 years of age have an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Other factors that may increase your chance of Alzheimer's disease include:
Researchers are studying the following to see if they are related to Alzheimer's disease:
The disease begins as mild memory lapses. It will continue toward a profound loss of memory and function. Alzheimer's disease is divided into three stages:
There are no tests to confirm Alzheimer's. You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Neurological, psychological, and mental status exams may be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Your brain's electrical activity may be measured. This can be done with electroencephalogram (EEG).
There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. There are no certain ways to slow its progression. Medication is available to treat some of the symptoms. The goal is to find a medication that can manage the symptoms or slow the condition's course.
Medications that have been approved to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include:
Managing the disease includes:
Psychiatric symptoms may occur with Alzheimer’s disease. Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat:
Caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease is difficult and exhausting. The primary caregiver needs emotional support, rest, and regular breaks. The Alzheimer’s Association is an excellent resource for families and caregivers
There are no guidelines for preventing Alzheimer's disease because the exact cause is unknown. However, the following factors may help you reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease:
Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center
Alzheimer Society Canada
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Last reviewed August 2014 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.