Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is a progressive neurological disease of the brain that leads to irreversible loss of neurons and the loss of intellectual abilities.
This includes a decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. The decline of each of these can become so severe it can eventually impede social or occupational functioning. Alzheimer’s disease account for 50% to 80% of all dementia cases.
A Progressive Disease
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. The early stages of Alzheimer’s include mild memory loss, but can then progress to much more serious disabilities such as losing the ability to perform simple tasks like carrying on a conversation.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., with the average life span of someone with Alzheimer’s living an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable.
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult because no two patients are alike when it comes to signs and symptoms. Alzheimer’s is classified into a number of stages. Some doctors use a 7-stage classification while others may use a 4, 5 or 6 stage classification system. The stages range with the following symptoms:
- No impairment
- Minimal impairment
- Early confusion
- Moderate cognitive decline
- Moderately severe cognitive decline
- Severe cognitive decline
- Very severe cognitive decline
Although there has been significant research into the possible causes of Alzheimer’s, there are no conclusive reasons why the brain cells deteriorate. There are, however, some factors which can be linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. These include:
- Family history
- Down’s Syndrome
- Head injuries
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Heart disease
- Processed foods and fertilizers (nitrates)
Tests can be performed on those who show certain signs of Alzheimer’s to help rule out other conditions such as anxiety, depression and thyroid problems, just to name a few.
If you would like to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and the role Longstreet Clinic Neurology is playing to help those suffering from the disease, please contact us today at 770-771-6916.