Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away (degenerate) and die. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that disrupts a person’s ability to function independently.
Current Alzheimer’s disease tablets may temporarily improve symptoms or slow the rate of decline.There is no treatment that cures Alzheimer’s disease or alters the disease process in the brain. In advanced stages of the disease, complications from severe loss of brain function — such as dehydration, malnutrition or infection — result in death.
What is a Microbiome?
The next time you feel lonely, consider this fact: Your body is teeming with guests; about a thousand different species of bacteria, fungi, and viruses living on your skin and inside your digestive system. Your colon is “colonized” with some 10 trillion of these critters. Together they contain as many cells as your body and weigh as much as your brain. Together, they are referred to as your “microbiota,” and their collection of genes is called your “microbiome.” Your microbiome, which contains more than a hundred times as many genes as your own DNA, is not something to ignore.
Risk factors for Alzheimer’s
Age. Advancing age is the greatest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. The majority of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are 65 or older.
Although far less common, younger-onset Alzheimer’s (also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s) affects people younger than 65. It is estimated that up to 5 percent of people with Alzheimer’s have younger-onset disease. Younger-onset Alzheimer’s is often misdiagnosed.
Family Members with Alzheimer’s. If your parent or sibling develops Alzheimer’s, you are more likely to develop the disease than someone who does not have a first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s.
Genetics. Researchers have identified several gene variants that increase the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The APOE-e4 gene is the most common risk gene associated with Alzheimer’s; it is estimated to play a role in as many as one-quarter of Alzheimer’s cases. When a deterministic gene causes Alzheimer’s, it is called “autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease (ADAD).”
Cardiovascular Disease. Research suggests that health is closely related to heart and blood vessel health. The brain gets the oxygen and nutrients needed to function normally from blood, and the heart is responsible for pumping blood to the brain. Therefore, factors that cause cardiovascular disease also may be linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias, obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol and high blood pressure in midlife.
How is Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed?
Current health and medical history.
Daily routine and any changes in your behavior.
Memory, problem-solving, attention, and language abilities.
Lab tests, such as blood or urine tests.
Brain scans to look for problems, such as stroke, that may be causing symptoms.
Based on this information, your doctor can almost always tell whether you have dementia. That is when the brain is examined under a microscope.