Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by causing immediate memory loss and causing various behavioral disorders. This disease is terminal and has no cure, and during the period of time that causes its effect, different deteriorations can be observed on the brain according to the stage of development of the disease.alzehimer
Causes of Alzheimer’s disease
Currently, the true extent of causes of this disease is unknown but, to date, a large number of them have been detected. Among these risk factors, the most important are age and family history.
Age, a risk factor for Alzheimer’s
Age is an obvious risk factor, especially for people over 65 years old, with anyone at this age having a 10% chance of contracting this disease, and in people older than 85 years, the risk rises to almost 50%. Despite the studies, there have been cases where the disease was contracted by younger people.
It is believed that another factor that could favor the appearance of Alzheimer’s at an advanced age is the patient’s educational level. Some studies have associated the educational level of people with this disease, people with a high ability to express themselves through writing during their advanced years, are less likely to get dementia.
The other main cause of Alzheimer’s is family history, so that any individual whose parents or grandparents have suffered from dementia, have a higher risk of developing this disease. Being aware of the family history allows an early diagnosis of the disease, offering the possibility of initiating early treatments and being able to provide a better future for the patient.
Another cause of this disease is having genetically inherited the genotype of apolipoprotein E, this case can produce two opposite effects. On the one hand, inheriting the gene of type 4 increases the risk of acquiring Alzheimer’s, but instead, inheriting the gene of type 2 creates a protection against contracting the disease.
Biologically, it is thought that the disease is associated with decreased levels of acetylcholine in the brain . This substance is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for sending signals from one neuron to another, being of great importance in the processes of learning and memory. By decreasing acetylcholine levels, it is believed that the onset of Alzheimer’s disease could occur.
Other possible factors that have been detected as causing this disease are: hypertension, smoking, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia. All these diseases are capable of causing vascular lesions in the brain, which can degenerate brain functions causing Alzheimer’s.
How Alzheimer’s affects the brain Causes of Alzheimer’s disease
Early stage of Alzheimer’s
To know how Alzheimer’s affects the brain we have to repair the stages of that disease. The changes that occur during degenerative diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s, are usually differentiated in stages.
During the early stage there may be slight changes in the brain causing some problems related to memory , such as: needing help to find the keys, not being able to remember the name of a friend, getting lost in known places, changes in humor, make shorter sentences than usual or mix ideas without relation when saying something.
All memory problems caused during the early stage of Alzheimer’s are not always presented in a specific order, and any of these situations can occur in isolation. During this first stage, the patient continues to reason appropriately.
Middle stage of Alzheimer’s
During this second stage of Alzheimer’s , much more noticeable changes occur in the brain because the areas of the brain that deal with language begin to be affected , the patient affected by the disease begins to repeat phrases, does not finish what he was saying, presents difficulty in relating or differentiating concepts when expressing oneself.
It is at this stage where personality changes are much more noticeable, needing daily supervision for any activity and needing help to perform daily tasks such as dressing, bathing, preparing food, eating or using the bathroom.
Also during the middle stage of Alzheimer’s the balance is affected , the patient suffering from falls and needing help to walk, showing that during this period the cerebellum has been affected, which, within the central nervous system is responsible for balance and mobility coordination.
Advanced stage of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s affects the brain definitively during the last stage because it is when the disease has developed to the maximum and there have been serious damage to brain functions, presenting severe problems. Their motor skills are very affected during this stage, presenting inability to walk or they do it with much difficulty. They can not control their gestures and require help to perform any type of task , such as cleaning or eating, in addition to completely losing control over the bladder and bowels.
The memory of patients in this stage is completely compromised, losing short-term memory as well as long-term memory, they can not recognize their children, partners or any family member or friend.
The area of the brain responsible for speech is affected in such a way that they may lose the ability to speak completely, or in other cases making meaningless babbling. The prefrontal cortex of the brain is degenerated in such a way that people with Alzheimer’s have erratic behavior, screaming for no reason, cry without reason and sudden changes in their behavior, being very uninhibited or even aggressive in some cases.
During this period the risks of infections, derived from nutrition problems, dehydration or injuries caused by immobilization increase, being these many times the causes of the death of Alzheimer’s patients.
Life expectancy of a patient with Alzheimer’s
The life expectancy of Alzheimer’s patients varies depending on each person, but the average is usually between 8 and 10 years after the diagnosis of it, although the reasons for these differences are not currently known, since have registered cases of people who have survived up to 20 years suffering from this degenerative disease.