|Areas of the Brain Affected by Alzheimer's Disease|
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- Plaques—Abnormal deposits of a substance called beta amyloid in different areas of the brain.
- Neurofibrillary tangles—Twisted fibers (called tau fibers) within the nerve cells.
- Previous serious, traumatic brain injury
- Lower educational achievement
- Obesity in middle-age
- Down's syndrome
- Down's syndrome in a first-degree relative
- Women under age 35 who give birth to a child with Down's syndrome
- Family history of Alzheimer's disease
- Presence of a certain type of protein (APOE-e4)
- Elevated levels of homocysteine
- Heart disease
- Early—Loss of memory, reasoning, understanding, or learning, but does not interfere with independence
- Intermediate—Increased mental loss, personality changes, and increased dependence on others for basic needs
- Severe—Loss of personality and bodily functions with total dependence on others for care
Increasing trouble remembering things, such as:
- How to get to familiar locations
- What the names of family and friends are
- Where common objects are usually kept
- How to do simple math
- How to do usual tasks, such as cooking, dressing, and bathing
- Having difficulty concentrating on tasks
- Having difficulty completing sentences due to lost or forgotten words—may progress to complete inability to speak
- Forgetting the date, time of day, or season
- Getting lost in familiar surroundings
- Having mood swings
- Being withdrawn, losing interest in usual activities
- Having personality changes
- Walking in a slow, shuffling way
- Having poor coordination
- Losing purposeful movement
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Lumbar puncture
Medications for Symptoms and Disease Progression
- Cholinesterase inhibitors—Recommended for mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease
- N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist—For moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's disease
- Creating an environment in which you can receive the care you need
- Keeping your quality of life as high as possible
- Keeping yourself safe
- Helping yourself learn to deal with the frustration of your uncontrollable behavior
- Providing a calm, quiet, predictable environment
- Providing appropriate eyewear and hearing aids, and easy-to-read clocks and calendars
- Playing quiet music
- Doing light, appropriate exercise to reduce agitation and relieve depression
- Encouraging family and close friends to visit frequently
- Confusion, paranoia, and hallucinations
Alzheimer's Association http://www.alz.org
Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers
Alzheimer Society Canada http://www.alzheimer.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
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1/8/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Snitz BE, O'Meara ES, et al. Ginkgo biloba for preventing cognitive decline in older adults: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2009;302:2663-2670.
5/4/2012 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Buchman AS, Boyle PA, et al. Total daily physical activity and the risk of AD and cognitive decline in older adults. Neurology. 2012;78(17):1323-1329.
9/3/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Wippold FJ, Cornelius RS, et al. American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria for dementia and movement disorders. Available at: http://www.acr.org/~/media/ACR/Documents/AppCriteria/Diagnostic/DementiaAndMovementDisorders.pdf. Updated 2014. Accessed September 3, 2014.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014 -
- Update Date: 00/90/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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