Many refer to it as the disease of the century; the Alzheimer’s disease which has received much analysis in modern scientific studies. Almost 15 million people have been diagnosed with the disease internationally. A number of scientists have the belief that about 90% of the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is sporadic; meaning that it can affect people of all ages including both men and women. However, many cases have been linked with people aged 65 years and above. AD is a deadly disease affecting the brain interfering with its function like ability to think, speech, memory and general communication. AD changes the judgments and personality of a person and instantly disables the individual from doing basic tasks. No genetic link has been established with the disease (Cummings et al., 2002). There is no comprehensible genetic cause for AD. This research paper seeks to discuss information and theories related to the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and make an assertion that there is no genetic link to the disease.
AD was initially discovered by Alois Alzheimer, a German physician in 1906. The first case by this physician was a woman aged 55 who died from mental illness. The findings showed changes in the brain of the woman. Autopsy showed a lot of tangles and plaques deposits of disintegrating endings of nerve. The first conclusion made by the physician was that it was a psychological illness. Scientists nowadays are in a position to establish the cause as well as the reason why individuals get AD. The disease has been defined by the Alzheimer Association as a progressive, irreversible brain illness that gradually destroys the thinking and memory skills, ultimately even the ability to perform the simplest of all tasks (Smith et al., 2010).
Alzheimer’s disease and Elder Dementia
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While it has been stated that Alzheimer’s disease is a kind of dementia, the perception would gather much support for its definition. Alzheimer’s disease can be said to be one of the progressive dysfunction of the brain that leads to a slowly increasing restriction to day-to-day activities. Even though all AD patients show symptoms of dementia not every dementia patient has AD (Smith et al., 2010).
Forms of Alzheimer’s Disease
AD can either be familial or sporadic. Individuals having AD have different experiences. The experiences are depended on factors of personality, family history, and age, ethnic and cultural background. The rate at which Alzheimer’s Disease progresses is a factor of life stage. Early AD signs can be noticed although many people with AD have common initial symptoms like forgetfulness. Initial symptoms include forgetting both recent and simple tasks and/or events. The symptoms interfere with the right and left side of the brain based on the stage of advancement. The patients have a difficult with finding words as well as taking part in a conversation. With time, the behavior exhibits irritation and agitation very fast. Three stages can be experienced by the patient with AD. The initial stage is the Mild stage where there are few mental and behavioral problems (Cummings et al., 2002).
At such a stage, the individual could not be wholly aware of the Alzheimer’s disease symptoms but will yet be in a position to do daily tasks and still function as normal. However at this stage, the person is very forgetful. The individual will purpose to stick to daily routines and evade going into new situations. Depression is very prevalent at this stage and the affect of loss of memory could lead to emotions and feelings like anger, helplessness and frustration which are feelings which usually are not taken out on people. Such conditions must be examined and treated with immediate effect. In the second stage AD becomes more noticeable. Emotional changes are experienced on top of mental and behavioral problems. An individual having AD behavior is more restless, stubborn and agitated and develops incontinence or is not in a position to be “incontinent of feces and urine”. Changes in the brain become worse and obvious. It leads to changes in orientation, judgments, memory, comprehension, forms hallucination and general information making the individual feel delirious. There are changes of emotions like anger, fear, depression, frustration and sadness experienced by the individual. Now that the person cannot carry out daily tasks, they need a lot of assistance and attention. Patients having mental disease require assistance with day-to-day problems together with dressing, bathing and feeding.
The final stage which is severe for AD individuals makes them incapable of thinking or to tackle daily tasks. Communicating and recognizing members of the family becomes hard. The person may ultimately be bedridden. Chewing food and swallowing it becomes difficult; patient losses weight and series of health issues emerge. Whilst the cause of Alzheimer disease remains unknown, researchers have beliefs that a number of factors could contribute to an individual developing the illness. Scientists have started to create theories that AD causes are as a result of chemical, immune, autoimmune system, genetic and slow viruses. However, these are only speculations and unfounded proposition. AD cannot be related to a particular cause.
Well, particular enzymes known as neurotransmitters acetylcholine carry with them messages through synapse to amongst cells with which neurons can communicate. The particular neurotransmitter is found in the section of the brain that controls emotional intellect. For effective action, an enzyme is provided by brain cells. The lack of brain cells therefore can lead to AD. This is a simple analysis which can give light to researchers as they try to establish the exact cause of AD. Lack of neurons causes delays message transmission to every cell and therefore there is memory loss at all stages of AD. The increase in severity of AD leads to a greater loss of the activity of the enzymes. Environmental triggers are more important than previously thought. Researchers and Scientists have come up with another theory that AD is as a result of toxic chemicals found in systems. This is mainly emphasized on aluminum since the dialysis of patients of dementia in both fluids used to cleanse blood and the antacid utilized for dialysis patients, high aluminum concentration has been found in the blood. Contemporary scientists have not yet established fully concerning the relationship of aluminum and cell damage or whether it is the residue following the damage of cells that has taken place.
Active research is taking place in the area of genetics concerning AD. An individual with AD history has a chance of 50% of acquiring it. In such cases, it is referred to as Familial Alzheimer’s Disease (FAD). Even without FAD, there is a probability that a close relative of a certain patient having AD could ultimately get it. Scientists assert that particular mutations lead to unanticipated changes in single genes or in chromosomes sections which are known to lead to early onset AD forms (Alzheimer’s disease, 2008). Researchers have come up with evidence that genes which are undiscovered together with mutation of genes could influence AD whether indirectly or indirectly (Smith et al., 2010).
Genes linked with AD and their producers of chromosomes are Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) also known as a membrane protein which plays a significant role in the survival and growth of brain cells. Presenilin 1 protein (PS1) together with Presenilin 2 (PS2) is also two separate mutations of two different Presenilin proteins that may produce the sticky and waxy amyloidal plaque substance in the brain. By way of some error in genes, the immune system is deemed to destroy the healthy cells of the body leading to a kind of neuron damage. The body then takes the damaged neurons as body invaders. AD therefore has been thought as an autoimmune reaction to some provocation from outside that makes the body attack itself.
Again, researchers have the assertion that AD is as a result of death of neurons through viral infection. The researches in the genetics world and in other areas have been done to some extent. However, there is no empirical evidence that AD can be inherited or is genetically caused. The information provided by researcher only relates some kind of phenomena that requires further study. What has been speculated by researcher could be as a result of unfounded coincidence and thus not really the cause of AD (Cummings et al., 2002). There is in fact no definite test for AD. That means that the real cause of AD has not been established. With such information and data, we cannot also say that AD is inherited. It can happen that a close relative to the patient may suffer from AD. All the same, it is never proof enough to state hereditary function in transmission of AD (Alzheimer’s disease, 2008).
If the cause of AD could have been established fully, then diagnosis would be easy. However, researchers state that it is very important to treat other conditions initially before AD can be diagnosed. Researchers are still looking into the solution needed to deal with Alzheimer’s disease. The latest technology and skills of research have been a major boost in the medical field in finding about the cause, healing and cure of AD. There is growing research on the subject because many people are living with fears of being diagnosed with the disease. However, while there is no tangible cause related to AD, there is much communication needed that highlights the key causes of the disease (Alzheimer’s disease, 2008). AD has been found to affect all ages and therefore cannot be dementia though can be stated as a kind of dementia. Elder dementia is a different case from AD altogether.