Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative disease of the
brain, which causes thinking and memory to become seriously impaired. In
addition, it is a progressive condition, meaning it will continue to get worse
as it develops.
Early stages of the condition may begin with minor memory problems and
difficulty saying the right words and may lead to confusion, personality changes
and a total change in behaviors. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of
dementia and the risk increases with age.
There are three abnormal brain characteristics associated with Alzheimer's
- Amyloid plaques, build up between nerve cells. They contain deposits of a protein
fragment called beta-amyloid peptide mixed with a collection of additional
proteins, remnants of neurons, and bits and pieces of other nerve cells.
- Neurofibrillary tangles, are abnormal collections of a protein called tau. As a
result, neurons fail to function normally and eventually die.
- Damages and loss of neurotransmitters. Without them, neurons die leaving atrophied
spots throughout the brain.
Scientists are not sure about the role plaques and tangles play in Alzheimer’s
disease. Most of them consider they block connections among nerve cells and
disrupt activities that cells need to survive.
Despite it is uncertain that the disease can be inherited, recent researches
consider that carriers of the ApoE4 gene variant have a much higher chance of
developing Alzheimer's disease.