18.3.09

ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE: ADVANCES AND CHALLENGES

One of the most frightening and devastating of all neurological disorders is the dementia that occurs in the elderly. The most common cause of this illness is Alzheimer’s disease (AD). World over it is estimated that 26 million people are living with Alzheimer's and by 2050 the number is expected to quadruple.

The earliest symptoms of AD include forgetfulness; disorientation to time or place; and difficulty with concentration, calculation, language, and judgment. As the disease progresses, some patients have severe behavioral disturbances and may even become psychotic. The diagnosis depends on medical history, physical and neurological examinations, psychological testing, laboratory tests, and brain imaging studies. At present, however, final confirmation of the diagnosis requires examination of brain tissue, usually obtained at autopsy. ate caution must be taken.

The causes and mechanisms of the brain abnormalities underlying AD are not yet fully understood. Reductions occur in levels of markers for many neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, somatostatin, monoamines, and glutamate, that allow cells to communicate with one another. Damage to these neural systems, which are critical for attention, memory, language, learning, and higher cognitive abilities, is believed to cause the clinical symptoms. Currently approved treatments do not modify the course of the disease and offer only temporary mitigation of some symptoms of AD, such as agitation, anxiety, unpredictable behavior, sleep disturbances, and depression.

Within the past three to five years, greater appreciation has developed for the surprisingly important roles that diet and lifestyle play in determining risk for AD. Cognitive activity, physical activity, and heart-healthy diets lower the risk for AD, while obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes raise the risk. Some evidence indicates that successful management of these cardiovascular risks can delay the onset or
slow the progression of dementia.

Society for Neuroscience

2 comments:

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un abrazo,

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