Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that progressively affects memory and other intellectual functions. It is the most common neurodegenerative disease and the leading cause of dementia. The disease is characterized by deposits of amyloid protein and tau in the brain, which deteriorates the functioning of neurons, giving rise to the symptoms of the disease.
Who is affected by Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s usually affects people over 65, and its frequency increases with age. In rare cases, it can affect young people. In less than 1% of cases, the disease has a genetic basis and affects people between 30 and 50 years.
What is the Alzheimer’s disease symptoms
The most common symptoms are progressive memory loss, spatial or temporal disorientation, and language difficulties. The most frequent initial sign is memory loss. Still, in 20% of cases, the disease may begin with language or visual perception difficulties.
How is it diagnosed
The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease requires a complete evaluation, including a doctor’s visit, a cognitive assessment, and a brain imaging study. In some cases, especially in initial stages or atypical conditions, an analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) markers is recommended to confirm the diagnosis. The measurement of 4 proteins in the CSF allows the detection of the disease’s biological signs in very early stages.
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What are the alzheimer’s treatments?
Current treatments consist of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors combined with memantine in more advanced stages. Research is being carried out on various biological treatments that act against the brain deposits of the amyloid protein and tau. These drugs are in advanced stages of research in Spain and the rest of the world. Recently, one of them (aducanumab) has been approved in the US for clinical use in Alzheimer’s disease. In Europe, the European Medicines Agency will pronounce itself in early 2022.
Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented?
Today some lifestyles reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. As prevention measures, it is advisable to control vascular risk factors, such as hypertension or diabetes, avoid smoking and being overweight, carry out physical exercise, maintain good sleep hygiene and maintain an active intellectual and social life.