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Alzheimer’s Disease is a serious brain disease that is affecting 5 ½ million people in the United States today. Most are over 60. Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. One in three seniors die of Alzheimer’s disease, or another dementia. 2/3 of those suffering with this disease are women and the disease affects blacks about twice as commonly as whites. The number of persons with Alzheimers will grow as the population of those over the age of 65 rises. It is the only disease in America in the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed. In 2015 Alzheimer’s disease, and other dementias, will cost the nation $226 billion dollars and by 2050 this may rise to $1.1 trillion dollars.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia –a general term that describes a group of symptoms including loss of memory and other mental abilities. It accounts for about 60-80% percent of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly corrupts memory and thinking skills, until eventually the affected person loses the capacity to complete or carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. In most cases of Alzheimer’s, clinical manifestations first appear after age 65. However, Alzheimer’s and dementia are not a normal part of aging, although the greatest risk factor for developing the disease is increasing age.
The term Alzheimer’s was named for a German psychologist, Dr. Alois Alzheimer. In 1901, Dr. Alzheimer closely followed his client with unusual mental disorder. Her manifestations included memory loss, language problems and unpredictable behavior. After her death, Dr. Alzheimer took a series of examinations of his client’s brain and he found the presence of plaques (abnormal clusters of protein fragments, built up between nerve cells—now known as amyloid plaques) and dead and dying nerve cell tangles, which are made up of twisted strands of another protein (known now as neurofibrillary tangles).
Nerve cells or neurons do the real work in the brain. An adult brain contains about a 100 billion nerve cells that connect to one another at the synapses. When a charge reaches a synapse, it will trigger a release of a tiny burst of chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters will travel across the synapse, carrying signals to other cells. These signals that travel through the neuron branches, or forest, form the basis of memories, thoughts, and feelings. Unfortunately, neurons are the chief type of cells destroyed by the Alzheimer’s disease.
Up to date, experts still do not know exactly what causes Alzheimer’s disease and how the process begins. However, according to scientists, it appears to be likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before the issues become obvious. Amid the preclinical phase of the Alzheimer’s illness, individuals are free of the