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Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, which describes the loss of mental abilities, such as memory and reasoning.
Alzheimer's disease is a slowly progressive, irreversible brain disease that results in memory loss, impaired thinking ability, and ultimately changes in behavior or personality. The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease progress over time from mild forgetfulness to severely impaired mental function. These symptoms result from the death of brain cells and the lost connections between them. The course of the disease, including the range of symptoms and the speed at which mental function declines, varies widely from individual to individual. People with Alzheimer's disease live an average of eight to ten years after diagnosis, but some may live for twenty years or more.
A form of presenile dementia due to atrophy of frontal and occipital lobes of the brain. Usually occurs between ages 40 and 60, more often in women than men. Involves progressive, irreversible loss of memory, deterioration of intellectual functions, apathy, speech and gait disturbances, and disorientation. Course may take from a few months to 4-5 years to progress to complete loss of intellectual function.
Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in industrialized nations. Dementia is a brain disorder that interferes with a person's ability to carry out everyday activities. The brain of a person with Alzheimer disease (see Multimedia file 1) has abnormal areas containing clumps (senile plaques) and bundles (neurofibrillary tangles) of abnormal proteins. These clumps and tangles destroy connections between brain cells.This usually affects the parts of the brain that control cognitive (intellectual) functions such as thought, memory, and language.Levels of certain chemicals that carry messages around the brain (neurotransmitters) are low.The resulting losses in intellectual ability are called dementia when they are severe enough to interfere with everyday functioning. Alzheimer disease affects mainly people aged 60 years or older. The risk of developing Alzheimer disease continues to increase with age. People aged 80 years, for example, have a significantly greater risk than people aged 65 years.About 5 million people in the United States and more than 30 million people worldwide have Alzheimer disease. Many others have mild, or minimal, cognitive impairment, which frequently precedes dementia.The number of people with Alzheimer disease is expected to rise substantially in the next few decades because of the aging of the population.The disease affects all races and ethnic groups.It seems to affect more women than men.Alzheimer disease is a progressive disease, which means that it gets worse over time. It cannot be cured or reversed by any known treatment. The symptoms often are subtle at first.Over time, people with the disease lose their ability to think and reason clearly, judge situations, solve problems, concentrate, remember useful information, take care of themselves, and even speak.Changes in behavior and personality are common.People with mild Alzheimer disease usually require close supervision and help with everyday tasks such as cooking, shopping, and paying bills.People with severe Alzheimer disease can do little on their own and require complete full-time care. Because of this, Alzheimer disease is considered a major public health problem. The cost of caring for people with the disease is estimated at over $100 billion per year in the United States. The average yearly cost per affected person is $20,000 to $40,000, depending on the severity of the disease.That cost doesn't take into account the loss of quality of life for the affected person, nor the physical and emotional toll on family caregivers.