The disease can begin many years before it is eventually diagnosed. In its early stages, short-term memory loss is the most common symptom, often initially thought to be caused by aging or stress by the sufferer. Later symptoms include confusion, anger, mood swings, language breakdown, long-term memory loss, and the general withdrawal of the sufferer as his or her senses decline. Gradually the sufferer loses minor, and then major bodily functions, until death occurs. Although the symptoms are common, each individual experiences the symptoms in unique ways. The duration of the disease is estimated as being between 5 and 20 years.
More than 4.5 million Americans are believed to have Alzheimer’s disease and by 2050, the number could increase to 13.2 million. Approximately 65,800 victims die and 350,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease are diagnosed each year. America is not alone in dealing with this terrible affliction. In every nation where life expectancy has increased, so has the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is becoming tragically common. It is estimated that there are currently 26 million people worldwide with Alzheimer’s disease. This figure is projected to grow to more than 106 million people by 2050.
The first sign of Alzheimer disease is a continuous pattern of forgetting things. This starts to affect a person’s daily life. He or she may forget where the grocery store is or the names of family and friends. This stage of the disease may last for some time or quickly progress, causing memory loss and forgetfulness to get worse.
Although some kinds of memory loss are normal parts of aging, the changes due to aging are not severe enough to interfere with the level of function. Many different diseases can cause dementia, but Alzheimer’s disease is by far the most common cause for dementia in the United States and in most countries in the world.
Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. The most common form of dementia among older people is Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which initially involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. Although scientists are learning more every day, right now they still do not know what causes AD, and there is no cure.
There is no cure for AD and no way to slow the progression of the disease. For some people in the early or middle stages of AD, medication such as tacrine (Cognex) may alleviate some cognitive symptoms. Donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), and galantamine (Reminyl) may keep some symptoms from becoming worse for a limited time. A fifth drug, memantine (Namenda), was recently approved for use in the United States. Combining memantine with other.
The likelihood of having Alzheimer’s disease increases substantially after the age of 70 and may affect around 50% of persons over the age of 85. Nonetheless, Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging and is not something that inevitably happens in later life. For example, many people live to over 100 years of age and never develop Alzheimer’s disease.
AD drugs may be more effective than any single therapy. One controlled clinical trial found that patients receiving donepezil plus memantine had better cognition and other functions than patients receiving donepezil alone. Also, other medications may help control behavioral symptoms such as sleeplessness, agitation, wandering, anxiety, and depression.
The tracer, called Pittsburgh Compound-B, was used during a PET scan on a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 10 months before her death. The tracer showed plaque build-up in the same areas of the brain where plaques were found upon autopsy.