Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

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Alzheimer's is a neural ailment whereby brain cells die resulting in mental degeneration and memory loss. Research indicates that it is the most conventional form of dementia since it accounts for approximately 60-80% of the dementia cases in the U.S. The illness occurs when plaques that contain beta-amyloid – from within the brain (Heneka 388). The symptoms worsen as time goes by and it becomes hard for the victims to reason, recall recent events and also recognize the people they already know. Ultimately, the victim requires full-time assistance. The contemporary medication for the Alzheimer’s disease improves the symptoms temporarily or slows down the decline rate. Sometimes, the treatment enables the patient to maintain independence for a time and maximize function (Heneka 389). Additionally, various services and programs are significant as far as providing the needed support to the patients and their caregivers are concerned. It is worth noting that Alzheimer's disease has no treatment that can cure it or alter the process of the malady in the brain. when the disease becomes chronic, the complications that result from extreme loss of the brain function like malnutrition, infection or dehydration causes death. This essay provides a detailed discussion about Alzheimer's disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

            A patient is supposed to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease if he or she experiences a decrease in the behavioral or cognitive performance and function as compared to how he or she was previously. The decline interferes with the capacity of the patient to function while working or in normal undertakings. The cerebral deterioration has to be manifested in a minimum of two of the symptoms discussed below:

 Firstly, decreased capacity to remember and take in new information which can result in leaving behind personal belongings, forgetting a common path, repetitive questions and forgetting appointments and events (Heneka 389). Secondly, the impairment to complex tasking, reasoning as well as exercising judgement. For instance, inability to manage finances, inability to plan sequential or complex activities, poor ability to make rational decisions, and poor comprehension of safety risks. Thirdly, diminished visuospatial capabilities which are not as a result of vision problems (Heneka 390). These encompass lack of ability to recognize conventional objects or faces or to identify things in a direct view and incapacity to utilize simple tools such as orient clothing to the body. Fourthly, compromised reading, writing and speaking, for example, spelling, speech and writing errors as well as difficulty thinking of common words in the course of hesitations and speaking (Heneka 391). Fifthly, changed in the behavior and personality, for instance, loss of empathy, socially acceptable behavior and out-of-character changes in mood including apathy, agitation, lack of interest, initiative or motivation.

In case the severity and number of the symptoms validate dementia, some of the factors that confirm the presence of Alzheimer's disease involve marked worsening of the person’s typical recognition level in specific areas (Heneka 392). Additionally, the person experiences a steady commencement over months to ages, instead of days or hours. If the symptoms commence or become worse in several hours or days – it is imperative to seek quick medical attention because this can be an indication of acute infection. Alzheimer's disease is almost certainly when the victim experiences loss of memory specified in the area of learning as well as remembering new information. Problems with language can also be a key indicator of the disease – struggling to find precise words (Heneka 393). Additionally, id the deficits in visuospatial are prominent they are supposed to include challenges in understanding separate parts of a scene simultaneously, problems to pinpoint faces and objects and difficulty in reading the text, commonly known as Alexia (Heneka 394). Lastly, the most substantial deficits in executive dysfunction that deals with problem-solving, judgement and reasoning.

Etiology of Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's is mainly instigated by the death of the brain cells – after all it’s a neuro-degenerative malady, which shows that there is constant death of cells in the brain with time. The patients who have the disease have fewer and fewer nerve connection and nerve cells (Peric & Annaert 364). Most scientists presume that in most individuals, the disease is brought about by a combination of lifestyle, genetic as well as environmental factors which adversely affects the intelligence with time. Research indicates that less than one percent of the time, Alzheimer's illness results from specific changes in the genetic make-up which virtually certify that the person will contract the disease (Peric & Annaert 365). It is these occurrences which are rare that cause the onset of the illness in the middle age.

The real cause of the Alzheimer's has not been fully substantiated. Nonetheless, the key problems with the brains proteins which fail operate normally interferes with the neurons and releases toxic events in sequences. The brain cells are damaged, lose the connection between them and finally die (Peric & Annaert 368). The damage of the neurons commences on the parts of the brains that regulates reminiscence. Nevertheless, the entire procedure starts years before the appearance of the first symptoms. The death of brain cells extends in a particular pattern to another part of the brain. During the late stage of the disease, the brain will have already shrunk substantially. A scientist has ascribed Alzheimer's development to the two proteins discussed below:

The first one is known as plaques. Beta-amyloids are the remains which are segments of the larger protein. The segments tend to cluster together and produce a toxic effect on the brain cells disrupting the coordination between cells (Peric & Annaert 371). These collections finally form mass depositions known as amyloid plaques which also encompass other cellular fragments. The second one is called tangles. The Tau proteins play a significant role in the transport system or internal support of the neurons to convey nutrients among other important materials (Peric & Annaert 373). In the case of the Alzheimer's disease, these tau proteins alter their shape and assemble into forms that are known as neurofibrillary tangles which are toxic to the cells and disrupts the transport systems.

Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s require a doctor to carry out tests to evaluate the memory impairment among other cognitive skill, judge functional capabilities and pinpointing changes in the behavior of the patient (Peric & Annaert 378). Additionally, the doctor also conducts various tests to rule out any other potential cause of impairment. Precise diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is a significant step in ensuring that the patient will receive the right treatment, family education, care as well as future plans. The doctor checks whether the patient has early signs and symptoms of the illness which have been discussed above. It is important to note that the doctor should be proficient in brain conditions (Peric & Annaert 379). Additionally, a geriatrician is a suitable doctor. The latter reviews the medical history of the patient, his or her medications history together with the signs and symptoms. Therefore, the series of clinical evaluations, setting –age and duration of progressive symptoms, as well as the physical examinations, provide doctors with sufficient information to make a diagnosis.

Diagnostic Tests and Clinical Test

The primary doctor conducts laboratory tests to exclude other disorders which cause some symptoms that are similar to those Alzheimer’s, for example, vitamin B-12 deficiency and thyroid disorder (Peric & Annaert 380). The brain-imaging test is very critical during diagnosis. However, these scans alone cannot be sufficient when making a diagnosis. The primary reason why they are not relied upon during diagnosis is that there can be an overlap in what the doctors regard to as a normal-related change within the brain as well as abnormal change. Nevertheless, the brain imaging test can help in ruling out other causes like brain tumors, hemorrhages or strokes (Peric & Annaert 381). Additionally, it can differentiate between various types of degenerative brain disease and also establish baseline concerning the level of degeneration. Some of the brain-imaging advanced technologies comprise the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Computerized Tomography.

The Risk Factors of Alzheimer’s Disease


Increase in age is one of the most significant risk factors for the malady. Even the disease is not part of the normal process of aging - when one grows older, he or she becomes more vulnerable to develop Alzheimer’s disease (Norton 788). One of the researchers found that in every year there two new prescriptions per 1000 individuals who are between 65 – 74, and 37 new diagnoses in 1000 persons who are above 85 years.

Genetics and Family History

A person whose first degree relative like parents has Alzheimer’s disease is at a higher risk of contracting the illness. It is important to note that various genetic mechanisms revolving around families with Alzheimer’s have not been explained fully and also the genetic factors are compound (Norton 789). Nonetheless, one of the genetic factors which have been accurately determined is a form of apolipoprotein E gene (APOE). The variation of the gene – APOE e4 – intensifies the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. However, this does not mean that every person with the APOE e4 gene variation will fall sick

Down Syndrome

Most individuals who have Down Syndrome are likely to develop the disease. People with Down syndrome have 3 copies of the chromosome and consequently the same copies of the protein gene that causes the creation of beta-amyloid (Norton 789). The Alzheimer’s symptoms appear 10-20 years earlier for those with Down Syndrome as compared to the time they take to appear in the general populace.

Mild Cognitive Impairment

This is the memory decline or a decrease in the other cognitive skills which is more than what is anticipated for a person’s age. Nonetheless, the reduction does not prevent an individual from performing in the social settings (Norton 792). Persons who have mild cognitive impairment are at a higher risk of contracting dementia. If the main mild cognitive impairment deficit is a memory, the condition progresses and becomes dementia due to Alzheimer’s (Norton 795). Nevertheless, when a person is diagnosed with MCI, he or she is able to concentrate on healthy lifestyle changes, plan regular appointments with the doctor to monitor the symptoms and come up with strategies to compensate for the loss of memory.

Lifestyle and Heart Health

Most research argue that the predisposing factors for heart disorders also increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. They comprise of obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, lack of exercise, and poorly controlled type diabetes (Norton 797). Each of these factors can be modified with a reduced vulnerability of contracting Alzheimer’s disease.


Scientist have are yet to determine a cure for Alzheimer’s disease for the reason that the death of the brain cells cannot be upturned. Nonetheless, there are healing intervention which can help the patients who have Alzheimer’s disease to live longer (Norton 800). Some of the critical elements of dementia care include activities and day-care programs, effective management of every condition that happen alongside the Alzheimer’s as well as the engagement of support services and groups. Regarding drug psychotherapy, there are no available drugs for modifying the disease (Norton 802). However, some options might decrease the symptoms and aid in enhancing the quality of life. some of the cholinesterase inhibitors which are sanctioned for symptomatic relief within the United States are Tacrine (Cognex), Rivastigmine (Exelon) and Donepezil (Aricept). A different type of drug referred to as memantine which is an NMDA receptor antagonist can also be utilized, alone or can be coupled with a cholinesterase inhibitor (Norton 802). Concerning other therapies, an increase in the quality of care turns out to be significant as an individual becomes unable to survive autonomously.


In a nutshell, Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia which causes memory and thinking problems. The signs and symptoms of the disease develop gradually and worsen with time and interfere with day to day tasks. From the above discussion, it is crystal clear that the disease demands global attention because it accounts for 60-80 percent of the cases of dementia. Additionally, the disease is not a typical part of aging but aging has been a major predisposing factor. Alzheimer’s does not have a cure, however, treatments for the symptoms are accessible and the study progresses. Even though the contemporary treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from continuing, they improve the quality of life of the patients who have Alzheimer’s together with their caregivers and temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms. Currently, there is widespread effort underway to pinpoint the most effective ways to diagnose the illness, delay, procrastinate its onset, and avert its development.


Heneka, Michael T., et al. "Neuroinflammation in Alzheimer's disease." The Lancet Neurology 14.4 (2015): 388-405.

Norton, Sam, et al. "Potential for primary prevention of Alzheimer's disease: an analysis of population-based data." The Lancet Neurology 13.8 (2014): 788-794.

Peric, Aleksandar, and Annaert, Wim. "Early etiology of Alzheimer’s disease: tipping the balance toward autophagy or endosomal dysfunction?" Acta neuropathological 129.3 (2015): 363-381.

October 13, 2023



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