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• Alzheimer’s disease strikes 8 to 15 percent of people over age 65 years, with the number of cases doubling every 5 years of age after 60.
Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be responsible for 60 to 70 percent of all cases of dementia and is one of the leading causes of nursing home placements. ~ Healthy People 2010, Mental Health and Mental Disorders
• In 2008, 4.5 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s. Scientists estimate that without effective medication that number will triple
in the next 40 years. ~ NBC Nightly News, January 14, 2008
• Alzheimer’s disease affects equal numbers of women and men. However, because of women’s longer life spans, more women than men
have Alzheimer’s disease at any point in time. ~ Healthy People 2010, Mental Health and Mental Disorders
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Alzheimer’s affects the patient and
their loved ones. Here are a list of resources people can turn to for support and guidance in their battle against the disease.
-1- Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center – http://www.alzheimers.org -2- Alzheimer's Association – http://www.alz.org -3- Alzheimer's Foundation of America – http://www.alzfdn.org -4- National Institute on Aging – http://www.nia.nih.gov -5- American Health Assistance Foundation – http://www.ahaf.org -6- Alzheimer's Research Foundation – http://www.alzheimers-research.org -7-
-1- Aricept – http://www.aricept.com -2- Exelon – http://www.exelonpatch.com -3- Razadyne – http://www.razadyneer.com -4- Namenda – http://www.namenda.com
What is Alzheimer's Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the brain and becomes increasingly common with advancing age. Characterized by
abnormal brain structures and loss of brain cells, Alzheimer’s disease is also associated with decreased levels of neurotransmitters. Drug
treatment today slows the breakdown of these neurotransmitters, but they do not cure the disease. Testing has shown, however, that
stabilizing a patient early slows down the degeneration more than patients who were diagnosed later in the disease’s progression. What Alzheimer's Effects
In normal brain function neurotransmitters called acetylcholine are responsible for brain communication. By comparison, Alzheimer’s disease
patients experience three physical effects: 1. They have lower levels of acetylcholine than a normal brain.
2. Brain cells, which process information, degenerate or become a tangled mass of fibers.
3. An abnormal protein known as amyloid is produced and causes a plaque that’s toxic to nearby brain cells.
Aside from the physical ailments, the psychological and emotional pain for the patient and their loved ones can be devastating. Since
Alzheimer’s results in substantial memory loss in late stages, many patients cannot recall family or friends. So the disease not only affects the
patient emotionally, but also those closest to them. Reasons for Alzheimer’s Disease
Although the exact reason for Alzheimer’s is unknown, scientists do know that genetics plays a role. There are possibly more than a dozen
genes tied to Alzheimer’s that can increase an individual’s risk. However, each one that is identified offers more information on the causes of
Alzheimer’s disease. Columbia University recently discovered another gene called SORL1 that increases vulnerability to late onset Alzheimer’s.
By learning about these genes, scientists might develop better drugs that can stop or slow the brain degeneration and memory loss that
characterizes Alzheimer’s. Medications and Procedures
Currently, there are three FDA approved cholinesterase inhibitors – medications used in the early stage of Alzheimer’s. They include:
1 Aricept (donepezil)
2 Exelon (rivastigmine)
3 Razadyne (galantamine)
For later stage Alzheimer’s patients there is Namenda (memantine HCI)
. All of these drugs help in three main areas since they…
1 Slow the decline of activities of daily life
2 Prevent or improve psychiatric symptoms
3 Stabilize cognition function (memory loss, language skills, etc.)
Side effects and dosage can differ from patient-to-patient with most common side effects being nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Legs
and muscle cramps might also occur but these symptoms are relatively uncommon. In the early stage, since there is more than one
drug available, a patient might be able to switch to another drug if the side effects are too sever for them to handle.
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