A Comprehensive Evaluation Of Alzheimer’s Diseas

1472 words - 6 pages

Introduction Alzheimer's Disease is a progressive and irreversible brain disease that destroys mental and physical functions. It is the fourth leading cause of adult death in the United States. The average life expectancy of a person with the disease is between five and ten years, some patients can live up to 15 years due to the improvements in medical treatments.Learning about Alzheimer?s disease and realizing that it is much more that just a loss of memory can benefit the families of those with the disorder as well as society as a whole. The purpose of this paper is to look at the disorder, as well as to discuss the history, symptoms, diagnosis and hopes of a cure for Alzheimer?s disease.History Alzheimer?s disease was first described by Alois Alzheimer as a progressive deterioration of intellect, memory and orientation. As a neuropathologist, Alzheimer studied the case a 51 year-old woman. When she died, Alzheimer performed an autopsy and found that she had ?cerebral atrophy? (deterioration of the brain), ?senile plaques? (protein deposits) and ?neurofibrillary tangles? (abnormal filaments in nerve cells) in her brain -- three common pathological features of those who have Alzheimer?s Disease (Ramanathan, 1997).Today, as research on Alzheimer's disease progresses, scientists are describing other abnormal anatomical and chemical changes associated with the disease. These include nerve cell degeneration in the brain's nucleus and reduced levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brains of Alzheimer's disease victims (Alzheimer?s Disease). However, from a practical standpoint, conducting an autopsy of an individual to make a definitive diagnosis is rather ineffective.Symptoms The progression of Alzheimer?s disease is classified into three phases: forgetfulness, confusion, and dementia. The forgetfulness phase is the first stage and is characterized by a loss of short-term memory. Patients in this phase will often have trouble remembering names of well-known people and will misplace items on a regular basis. This stage also may include behavioral changes. Additionally, a loss of spontaneity and social withdrawal often occurs as the individual begins to become aware that there is something inherently wrong. Speech problems and difficulty with comprehension may also appear.In the confusion stage, the cognitive deterioration is more noticeable and memory loss is much more pronounced. Individuals in this stage will often have trouble recognizing where they are or remembering the date and day of the week. Poor judgment is also a noticeable trait at this state and the individual?s personality will likely change to some degree as well.In the final stage of dementia, there are profound losses of memory and mental abilities. Patients will often not recognize their spouse or children or be able to read with comprehension. Eventually, individuals will become bedridden as brain functions disintegrate (Ramanathan 1997).Diagnosis As of yet, there are...

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