Diseases

Alzheimer’s Disease

An Irreversible Neurodegenerative disorder, a Major Challenge for Public Health

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an irreversible neurodegenerative disorder affecting around 44 million people worldwide. It is characterized by progressive death of neurons in certain brain structures. This neuronal loss causes disorders of thought, memory, personality, and behavior. Most commonly, AD’s symptoms first appear when the patient is in their mid-60s (late-onset AD). Early-onset AD occurs in people aged between age 30 and mid-60s but is very rare.

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The disease generally progresses and worsens until the individual dies. The average survival time is 3-4 years if diagnosed when the person is over 80 but can reach 10 years if the person is diagnosed earlier.

Common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

Memory loss that impacts daily life

Disorientation

Difficulty completing normal daily tasks

Repeating questions

Getting lost or wandering

Personality changes

Confusion

Inability to recognize familiar people

Rapid mood changes

Early symptoms of AD, such as memory issues and partial loss of certain cognitive abilities, may go unnoticed in the early phase of the disease. However, as the disease progresses, the symptoms become more noticeable and ultimately interfere with daily life. Difficulties with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, and eating, gradually become more challenging. Eventually, people with AD need support from others to manage such tasks. AD also causes a general deterioration in health, including increased frailty. The most common cause of death in AD patients is pneumonia caused by a deterioration of the immune system, the patient losing weight, and the increasing risk of throat and lung infections.

There is currently no known cure for AD. Current approaches focus on helping people maintain mental function, manage behavioral symptoms, and slow down the symptoms of the disease.

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References