Alzheimer’s – Symptoms, Research, and Treatment

The pathological hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of proteinaceous plaques around dying neurons in certain regions of the brain composed mostly of a peptide called A-Beta. For years we have known that A-Beta was important for Alzheimer’s disease, but we didn’t know exactly whether it was the crud aggregates that killed neurons. In doing so the researchers discovered that insulin protected the cells from clumps of toxic proteins called beta-amyloid. This structural change (amyloid plaques), along with neurofibrillary tangles, are the two definitive markers for Alzheimer’s.

Anyone who has ever cared for aging, ill, or dying parents or other loved ones knows what a heart-wrenching, difficult, and exhausting thing this is. Also, I think Alzheimer’s is one of the most terrifying, heartbreaking, and feared diseases today because there are so many unknowns, and watching someone very close to you who has loved you dearly and you them, slip away into a land you cannot enter until finally they do not know you at all.

Depression often results when a family caregiver, who endures high levels of stress, is unable to alleviate the suffering of a loved one. There are balance issues resulting in falls which required trips to the emergency room. There are visual disturbances leading to either depth perception issues or just plain not seeing what is in front of the patient.

During the last stages patients do not even remember how to eat or walk. They become highly frustrated and become agressive and unmanageable at times, mostly because they are highly confused and do not understand what is happening to them.

Higher serum vitamin D3 levels are associated with better cognitive test performance in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative, a program to raise awareness and fund research for Alzheimer’s disease, has two parts: a traveling art quilt exhibit interpreting Alzheimer’s in fiber art that will tour the US for three years, and an on-going sale of small art quilts.

There are currently five drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that can be used to treat Alzheimer’s.

The 5 FDA Approved Medications are:

There is ongoing research done all the time to test the effectiveness of such medications since they do not serve as a cure-all for the disease. These medications may not have the same effects on all patients that are suffering from Alzheimer’s. But such prescription drugs can have significant effects on some of the patients with Alzheimer’s disease and should be given consideration as a possible treatment.

The first four drugs listed above belong to a group of drugs known as Cholinesterase Inhibitors. They work by trying to delay the break down of a substance known as acetylcholine in the brain which helps in bridging communication between nerve cells and has an important role in a person’s memory.

Namenda on the other hand acts on another neurotransmitter called glutamate and shields the brain from the said substance, which contributes to the death of brain cells in people with Alzheimer’s disease. This drug is more effective in treating moderate to severe forms of Alzheimer’s disease, improving the day to day life of the person with Alzheimer’s disease.

From 2000 to 2006, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease increased by 47.1%. During this time, deaths from other diseases such as heart disease , breast cancer , and prostate cancer decreased.

Disclaimer: Please always seek the advise of your Medical Professional to determine what choices you should make in any health care decisions.