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When the brain stops functioning the right way, it is known as dementia. It affects memory and behavior. Alzheimer’s disease contributes the most to dementia. This disease is associated with gradual advancement in loss of human brain cells.
Sadly, medical science has not been able to trace the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease. On the positive side, however, certain conditions and factors have been observed to increase the risk of this disease. Such factors include age, family history of Alzheimer’s, severe head injuries in the past, and conditions related to vascular diseases.
A person suffering with Alzheimer’s demonstrates deterioration in communication and behavior. This is largely due to loss of neurotransmitters-acetylcholine in the brain. These chemical messengers facilitate interaction between the nerve cells in the brain.
Several theories have been presented to argue the causes of Alzheimer’s. Some suggest that zinc or aluminum is connected with this form of dementia. However, it is widely accepted that a combination of lifestyle, environment, and of course, genetic factors result in Alzheimer’s.
While a healthy brain has several cells, the one associated with Alzheimer’s will have significantly fewer cells. Brain shrinkage occurs due to progressive decline of brain cells due to Alzheimer’s disease. Two types of abnormalities are observed when an Alzheimer’s-affected brain is observed under a high-power microscope:
Beta-amyloid: These are protein bundles that hinder communication among the brain cells, and also destroy the cells.
Knots: Inside the human brain, there is a complex internal support and transport system, which is responsible for transport of nutrients. Tau, a type of protein, is the backbone of this support and transport system. Under Alzheimer’s, the brain activity disrupts due to formation of tau knots.
It is disheartening that Alzheimer’s disease is progressive in nature. But early symptoms such as memory problems, and difficult in pronouncing words can help receive the right diagnosis.
Alzheimer’s disease is incurable at present. Medication does help address the issues to some extent. The best way to deal with Alzheimer’s disease is to prevent its onset. This can be done by adopting a healthy lifestyle. This means ‘no smoking’, ‘no alcohol’, consuming healthy balanced diet, exercising, and regular health checkups.