Dementia And The Brain
Knowing more about the brain and how it can change can help to understand the symptoms of dementia. It can help a person with dementia to live well, or to support a person with dementia to live well.
These pages explain which areas of the brain are responsible for certain skills and abilities, and how these are affected by dementia. We explain how changes to the brain relate to changes a person may notice as the condition progresses.
This information is helpful for anyone who wants to find out more about how the brain is affected by dementia.
Is There Treatment Available
At present there is no cure for Alzheimers disease. However, one group of drugs called cholinergeric drugs appears to be providing some temporary improvement in cognitive functioning for some people with mild to moderate Alzheimers disease.
Drugs can also be prescribed for secondary symptoms such as restlessness or depression or to help the person with dementia sleep better.
Community support is available for the person with Alzheimers disease, their families and carers. This support can make a positive difference to managing dementia. Dementia Australia provides support, information and counselling for people affected by dementia. Dementia Australia also aims to provide up-to-date information about drug treatments.
For more information contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
For a range of books and videos contact our Library.
For advice, common sense approaches and practical strategies on the issues most commonly raised about dementia, read our Help Sheets.
Medications To Maintain Mental Function In Alzheimer’s Disease
Several medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat symptoms of Alzheimers. Donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine are used to treat the symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimers. Donepezil, memantine, the rivastigmine patch, and a combination medication of memantine and donepezil are used to treat moderate to severe Alzheimers symptoms. All of these drugs work by regulating neurotransmitters, the chemicals that transmit messages between neurons. They may help reduce symptoms and help with certain behavioral problems. However, these drugs dont change the underlying disease process. They are effective for some but not all people and may help only for a limited time.
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Health Environmental And Lifestyle Factors
Research suggests that a host of factors beyond genetics may play a role in the development and course of Alzheimers. There is a great deal of interest, for example, in the relationship between cognitive decline and vascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, as well as conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Ongoing research will help us understand whether and how reducing risk factors for these conditions may also reduce the risk of Alzheimers.
A nutritious diet, physical activity, social engagement, and mentally stimulating pursuits have all been associated with helping people stay healthy as they age. These factors might also help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimers. Researchers are testing some of these possibilities in clinical trials.
Key Biological Processes In The Brain
Most neurons have three basic parts: a cell body, multiple dendrites, and an axon.
- The cell body contains the nucleus, which houses the genetic blueprint that directs and regulates the cells activities.
- Dendrites are branch-like structures that extend from the cell body and collect information from other neurons.
- The axon is a cable-like structure at the end of the cell body opposite the dendrites and transmits messages to other neurons.
The function and survival of neurons depend on several key biological processes:
Neurons are a major player in the central nervous system, but other cell types are also key to healthy brain function. In fact, glial cells are by far the most numerous cells in the brain, outnumbering neurons by about 10 to 1. These cells, which come in various formssuch as microglia, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytessurround and support the function and healthy of neurons. For example, microglia protect neurons from physical and chemical damage and are responsible for clearing foreign substances and cellular debris from the brain. To carry out these functions, glial cells often collaborate with blood vessels in the brain. Together, glial and blood vessel cells regulate the delicate balance within the brain to ensure that it functions at its best.
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Amyloid Accelerates Tau Toxicity
NEW YORK, NY Using high-resolution functional MRI imaging in patients with Alzheimers disease and in mouse models of the disease, Columbia University Medical Center researchers have clarified three fundamental issues about Alzheimers: where it starts, why it starts there, and how it spreads. In addition to advancing understanding of Alzheimers, the findings could improve early detection of the disease, when drugs may be most effective. The study was published today in the online edition of the journal Nature Neuroscience.
It has been known for years that Alzheimers starts in a brain region known as the entorhinal cortex, said co-senior author Scott A. Small, MD, Boris and Rose Katz Professor of Neurology, professor of radiology, and director of the Alzheimers Disease Research Center. But this study is the first to show in living patients that it begins specifically in the lateral entorhinal cortex, or LEC. The LEC is considered to be a gateway to the hippocampus, which plays a key role in the consolidation of long-term memory, among other functions. If the LEC is affected, other aspects of the hippocampus will also be affected.
In the study, the researchers used a high-resolution variant of fMRI to map metabolic defects in the brains of 96 adults enrolled in the Washington Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging Project . All of the adults were free of dementia at the time of enrollment.
The authors declare no financial or other conflicts of interests.
What Particular Part Of The Brain Does Alzheimers Effect
Alzheimers is first detected in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for recent learning and more complex thoughts. From there the disease spreads out to the other sections of the brain as the disease continues to progress. Eventually, Alzheimers affects all aspects of everyday living and, in the end-stages, even the immune system is compromised. The person becomes susceptible to recurrent infections which quite often lead to the immediate cause of death.
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The Basics Of Alzheimers Disease
Scientists are conducting studies to learn more about plaques, tangles, and other biological features of Alzheimers disease. Advances in brain imaging techniques allow researchers to see the development and spread of abnormal amyloid and tau proteins in the living brain, as well as changes in brain structure and function. Scientists are also exploring the very earliest steps in the disease process by studying changes in the brain and body fluids that can be detected years before Alzheimers symptoms appear. Findings from these studies will help in understanding the causes of Alzheimers and make diagnosis easier.
One of the great mysteries of Alzheimers disease is why it largely affects older adults. Research on normal brain aging is exploring this question. For example, scientists are learning how age-related changes in the brain may harm neurons and affect other types of brain cells to contribute to Alzheimers damage. These age-related changes include atrophy of certain parts of the brain, inflammation, blood vessel damage, production of unstable molecules called free radicals, and mitochondrial dysfunction .
Rarer Causes Of Dementia
There are many rarer diseases and conditions that can lead to dementia, or dementia-like symptoms.
These conditions account for only 5% of dementia cases in the UK.
- problems with planning and reasoning
These symptoms are not severe enough to cause problems in everyday life.
If the underlying illness is treated or managed, symptoms of MCI often disappear and cause no further problems.
But in some cases, people with MCI are at increased risk of going on to develop dementia, which is usually caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
Read more about how to prevent dementia.
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Causes Of Vascular Dementia
Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, which damages and eventually kills brain cells.
This can happen as a result of:
- narrowing and blockage of the small blood vessels inside the brain
- a single stroke, where the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly cut off
- lots of mini strokes that cause tiny but widespread damage to the brain
Not everyone who has a stroke will go on to develop vascular dementia.
Read more about vascular dementia.
Take Part In Dementia Research
There are many dementia research projects and clinical trials going on around the world, many of which are based in the UK.
If you have a dementia diagnosis or are worried about memory problems, you can help scientists understand more about it, and develop possible treatments, by taking part in research.
Carers can also take part, as there are studies into the best ways to care for someone with a dementia diagnosis.
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Whats The Distinction Between Dementia And Alzheimers
Dementia is the term carried out to a group of signs that negatively affect reminiscence, but Alzheimers is a modern disease of the mind that slowly causes impairment in reminiscence and cognitive function.
Who is extra at risk of dementia?
Old age is the greatest risk factor for dementia Dementia mostly affects older folks, and the risk of dementia will increase with increasing age. The older you are, the more likely you are to be suffering from dementia. Approximately 1 in 70 folks elderly 65-69 have dementia. Nearly 1 in Four folks aged 85-89 have dementia.
Can an MRI come across Alzheimers?
MRI can discover brain abnormalities related to delicate cognitive impairment and can be utilized to predict which sufferers with MCI would possibly ultimately expand Alzheimers disease. In the early phases of Alzheimers disease, an MRI scan of the mind is also normal.
Is Alzheimers inherited from mother or father?
En español | If your mom has Alzheimers, you are much more likely to develop the disease than in case your father has Alzheimers, consistent with a find out about printed today in the magazine Neurology. The find out about adds to a growing frame of evidence that a tendency for the disease seems to be handed down via the mothers genes.
Why do Alzheimers sufferers prevent consuming?
How Does Alzheimers Affect You Physically
Alzheimers doesnt just affect a person mentally, it can also affect a person physically too. Some people may end up with physical problems before experiencing serious memory loss. It can affect the way a person walks and talks as well as the issues listed below :
- Loss of balance
- Shuffling or dragging feet when walking
- Trouble standing
- Trouble sitting in a chair
- Weak muscles
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Alzheimers Disease Risk Factors
Age is the top risk factor, and the risk of developing Alzheimers doubles every five years after age 65. However, about 200,000 people under age 65 have early-onset Alzheimers.
Genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors can play a role in causing dementia-related diseases like Alzheimers. The most significant factor in early-onset dementia is genetics. If a person has a parent or sibling with Alzheimers, that person has double the likelihood of developing it.
Cardiovascular conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol may also be contributing factors to Alzheimers. In addition, secondary conditions such as stroke can be factors.
Distribution Of Amyloid Plaques
In AD, senile plaque and neurofibrillary tangle formation tend to form neuroanatomically in stereotypic patterns, which has led to several staging schemes . One of the first attempts to stage amyloid plaques in AD was proposed by Heiko and Eva Braak. A three stage scheme was proposed, with the basal frontal and temporal lobes affected in Stage A, extension into the association neocortices and hippocampus in Stage B, and finally reaching primary cortices, subcortical nuclei and cerebellum in Stage C . Within the cortical layers, layers III and Va are most affected, layers IV and Vb were affected less, and other layers were relatively spared . More recently, the Braak plaque staging has been modified by his research associate, Dietmar Thal, and this scheme of amyloid phases using highly sensitive silver staining or A antibodies has been adopted by NIA-AA and BrainNet Europe . In Thal Phase 1 the neocortex is involved, expanding to the allocortex in Phase 2, subcortical nuclei, including the striatum, in Phase 3, with involvement of brainstem in Phase 4 and cerebellum in Phase 5 . For practical work, phases 14 can be determined by amyloid deposition in the medial temporal lobe . It is not unusual for neurologically normal patients to have Thal 13 amyloid phase as shown in Table .
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Dementia Is Depressing But You Dont Have To Be Depressed
Dementia isnt a specific disease, but rather a general term to describe any decline in brain function that affects memory, language, and other cognitive abilities, and that is serious enough to interfere with daily life.
Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases, per the Alzheimer’s Association.
Granulovacuolar Degeneration And Neuropil Threads
Granulovacuolar degeneration occurs almost exclusively in the hippocampus. Neuropil threads are an array of dystrophic neurites diffusely distributed in the cortical neuropil, more or less independently of plaques and tangles. This lesion suggests neuropil alterations beyond those merely due to NFTs and SPs and indicates an even more widespread insult to the cortical circuitry than that visualized by studying only plaques and tangles.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimers. Some people with memory problems have a condition called mild cognitive impairment . With MCI, people have more memory problems than normal for their age, but their symptoms do not interfere with their everyday lives. Movement difficulties and problems with the sense of smell have also been linked to MCI. Older people with MCI are at greater risk for developing Alzheimers, but not all of them do so. Some may even revert to normal cognition.
The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. For many, decline in nonmemory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment may signal the very early stages of the disease. Researchers are studying biomarkers to detect early changes in the brains of people with MCI and in cognitively normal people who may be at greater risk for Alzheimers. More research is needed before these techniques can be used broadly and routinely to diagnose Alzheimers in a health care providers office.
What Happens To The Brain In Alzheimer’s Disease
The healthy human brain contains tens of billions of neuronsspecialized cells that process and transmit information via electrical and chemical signals. They send messages between different parts of the brain, and from the brain to the muscles and organs of the body. Alzheimers disease disrupts this communication among neurons, resulting in loss of function and cell death.
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How Is Alzheimers Disease Treated
Alzheimers is complex, and it is therefore unlikely that any one drug or other intervention will successfully treat it in all people living with the disease.
Scientists are exploring many avenues to delay or prevent the disease as well as to treat its symptoms. In ongoing clinical trials, scientists are developing and testing several possible interventions. Under study are drug therapies aimed at a variety of disease interventions, as well as nondrug approaches such as physical activity, diet, cognitive training, and combinations of these. Just as we have many treatments for heart disease and cancer, we will likely need many options for treating Alzheimers. Precision medicine getting the right treatment to the right person at the right time will likely play a major role.
Current approaches to treating Alzheimers focus on helping people maintain mental function, treating the underlying disease process, and managing behavioral symptoms.
What Happens In Alzheimer Disease
You probably know that your brain works by sending signals. Chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters , allow brain cells to talk to each other. But a person with Alzheimer disease has lower amounts of neurotransmitters.
People with Alzheimer disease also develop deposits of stuff that prevent the cells from working properly. When this happens, the cells cant send the right signals to other parts of the brain. Over time, brain cells affected by Alzheimer disease also begin to shrink and die.
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Which Of The Following Are Risk Factors For Alzheimer’s Disease
The risk of growing Alzheimers or vascular dementia seems to be increased by way of many stipulations that harm the heart and blood vessels. These come with heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and top ldl cholesterol. Work together with your physician to watch your center health and deal with any issues that stand up.
How does Alzheimers start? Damage occurring in the brain of anyone with Alzheimers disease starts to turn itself in very early clinical indicators and symptoms. For the general public with Alzheimersthose who have the late-onset varietysigns first seem of their mid-60s. Signs of early-onset Alzheimers start between an individuals 30s and mid-60s.
What Are The 3 Risk Factors Related To Dementia
Risk Factors for Dementia
How do Alzheimer patients die? Rather, other folks die from complications from the illness, reminiscent of infections or blood clots. Alzheimers is a modern mind disease in which extraordinary protein deposits build up in the brain, inflicting mind cells to die. There is no remedy for the sickness.
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