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Scientific Concept Paper; Relating Alzheimer's And Literature

815 words - 3 pages

ALZHEIMER'S DISEASEWe most likely all know at least one person, whether it be a grandparent or another older relative, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's Foundation of America Website (2012) has defined Alzheimer's disease as "a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain's nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes." Among the 5.4 million Americans who have the disease, 5.2 million are 65 and older, and 200,000 are under 65. While the disease is undoubtedly more prevalent among an older generation, it is not a direct effect of aging. Despite its commonality in the elderly, it is not a disease to be treated as such, as it is the fifth leading cause of death in Americans aged 65 and older (Texas Alzheimer's Research Consortium, 2012).Currently, the cause of Alzheimer's is unknown, although there are many known risk factors. Although aging does not directly cause the disease, it is the highest known factor contributing to the risk of developing it. Other risk factors include "genetic makeup, oxidative damage to neurons from the overproduction of toxic free radicals, serious head injuries, brain inflammation, and environmental factors" (Alzheimer's Foundation of America Website 2012). Genetic makeup only accounts for about five percent of Alzheimer's cases; scientists have discovered a rare gene which causes the disease, but only in about one hundred families around the world. Heredity is another leading risk factor, which means if your predecessors have/had it, there is a substantially increased risk you will also develop the disease (Alzheimer's Association, 2012). Despite not know its exact cause, scientists do know how Alzheimer's develops.An Alzheimer's-affected brain is a very unhealthy one. Alzheimer's occurs when brain cells fail to function properly; the cause of cell failure, though, is currently unknown. The disease causes the hippocampus to shrink, the cortex to shrivel, and the ventricles to expand. Brain tissue will contain fewer nerve cells and synapses, which results in the overall degeneration of thought and memory. In its earliest stages, before any symptoms become evident for diagnosis, plaques (abnormal clusters of proteins) and tangles (twisted strands of proteins) develop in areas of the brain responsible for learning and memory, and thinking and planning. In mild to moderate cases, more plaques and tangles develop in the aforementioned areas, and also areas responsible for effective understanding and communication, and one's ability to acknowledge where his body is relative to surrounding objects is impaired. Finally, in severe cases of Alzheimer's, the cortex experiences a lot of shrinking, and the abilities to communicate, care for oneself, and recognize relatives are almost entirely lost (Alzheimer's Association, 2012).As of now, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease,...

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