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Stone, 2013

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http://www.alz.org/research/science/alzheimers_research.asp 

What We Know Today About Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia 

About Alzheimer’s and dementia

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[1] Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder that damages and eventually destroys brain cells, leading to memory loss and changes in thinking and other brain functions. It usually develops slowly and gradually gets worse as more brain cells wither and die. Ultimately, Alzheimer's is fatal, and currently, there is no cure.

But there is a neuroscience research effort underway to develop a new generation of more effective treatments. The Alzheimer's Association is moving this research initiative forward by funding scientists who are searching for more answers and new treatments, collaborating with stakeholders, and raising the visibility of Alzheimer's as a global health challenge.

[2]Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, a general term used to describe various diseases and conditions that damage brain cells. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 50 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Other types include vascular dementia, mixed dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia.  
 

[3] Scientists have identified several hallmark Alzheimer's brain abnormalities, including:
•Plaques, microscopic clumps of a protein called beta-amyloid peptide
•Tangles, twisted microscopic strands of the protein tau (rhymes with "wow")
•Loss of connections among brain cells responsible for memory, learning and communication. These connections, or synapses, transmit information from cell to cell.
•Inflammation resulting from the brain's effort to fend off the lethal effects of the other changes under way
•Eventual death of brain cells and severe tissue shrinkage 
 
 
All these processes have a devastating impact on the brain, and over time, the brain shrinks dramatically, affecting nearly all its functions.

 
 

Patterns of plaques and tangles


The most common early symptom is difficulty remembering newly learned information because Alzheimer's changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. [4] As Alzheimer's advances through the brain it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; more serious memory loss and behavior changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking. 
 

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