Valley Healthcare

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. As is the goal for awareness months, it is important to raise the profile of Alzheimer’s, including its symptoms and treatments.

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia. It affects 1 person out of 20 over the age of 65, and 1 in 3 seniors die of the disease. It is the sixth leading cause of death in America. The disease is associated with the ApoE4 protein of the brain, which increases risk ten-fold. With no cure, it is important to catch onto symptoms of the disease early to provide treatment. Symptoms include memory loss, difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion, difficulty with spatial relationships, withdrawal and changes in mood and personality. Taken by themselves, some symptoms such as memory loss may be a cause of old age. But a recurrence or combination of these symptoms must be taken seriously.

There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. Any links between prevention of the disease and a cure are tenuous – though certain studies show a link with diet, diabetes, smoking, and physical activity. Some treatments that target the plaque of the brain increase brain activity, but do not slow the death of brain cells. Recent breakthroughs that halted the death of brain cells in mice have raised hope, although these treatments have yet to be replicated in human brains.

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