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Alzheimers Disease - Essay Example

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In a manual for nursing, which is titled, "Alzheimer’s Diseaser", the disease is described as being “progressive”, which means that symptoms worsen over time. How fast the disease progresses, and what pattern symptoms might follow, is variable by individual.

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Alzheimers Disease
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1 Alzheimer's Disease In a manual for nursing, which is d, Care of Alzheimer patients, the disease is

described as being "progressive", which means that symptoms worsen over time. How

fast the disease progresses, and what pattern symptoms might follow, is variable by


Researchers and doctors use a number of scales to measure the progression of

symptoms over time, which may define as many as seven distinct stages of the disease.

There are three broad phases which are typically recognized, they are:

Mild symptoms

Confusion and memory loss, disorientation; getting lost in familiar surroundings,

problems with routine tasks, changes in personality and judgment.

Moderate symptoms

Difficulty with activities of daily living, such as eating and bathing, anxiety, suspiciousness, agitation, sleep disturbances, wandering, pacing, difficulty recognizing family and friends.

Severe symptoms

Loss of speech, loss of appetite, weight loss, loss of bladder control, total dependence on

care giver. (Gwyther)

"There is no single test that can accurately diagnosis the onset of Alzheimer's.

Doctors focus on ruling out all other possible "causes of symptoms", which might include

reactions to medications, other illnesses or psychological issues such as grief. A diagnosis

is said to be either possible (all other causes can be ruled out) or probable (all other

causes have been ruled out). A definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's is possible only after

examining brain tissue after death" (Fisher Center).

Initial observation

A new study included in the October issue of Radiology looked at 13 elderly

people with mild cognitive impairment - - a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease - - and 13

people without mild cognitive impairment.

Hypothesis tested

According to research conducted by Min-Ying Su of the University of California

Irvine, "as Alzheimer's disease progresses, cells in the brain may become damaged,

which allows water molecules to move throughout the brain more freely. This process of

cellular damage causes an increase in the "apparent diffusion coefficient", or "ADC,

which is a measurement used to study the distribution of water in the brain" (Su)

Basic method/ experiment design

"The participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and

performed memory recall tasks. The MRIs used a computer-aided analysis program to

measure ADC values in different regions of the brain" (Su).


The researchers found that, "participants with mild cognitive impairment had

increased water content in certain regions of the brain, including white-matter areas, the

hippocampus, temporal lobe gray matter and the corpus cellosum. The ADC values in the

hippocampus were associated with worse memory-performance scores" (Su)

Author's conclusion

Min-Ying Su in assessing the results of their research, said, "our methods may

enable earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, allowing earlier intervention to slow


down disease progression" (Su)

Writer's critique

The current process for diagnosis can be stressful, time consuming and expensive

for the aging patient. The fact that Alzheimer's disease affects the brain has previously

compelled doctors to employ a series of indirect tests to determine its presence and

progression in individual patients. The new computer mapping technology may allow

researchers to learn how Alzheimer's disease develops in the brain and come up with new

strategies for treating the disease.

Works Cited

Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Center, Accessed on line on September 30, 2006, from

Gwyther LP Care of Alzheimer patients: A Manual For Nursing Home Staff: Chicago AHA and AA 1985

New Technique might help Diagnose Alzheimer's Disease, Alzheimer's resource Room, Accessed on line on September 29,2006, from

Understanding Alzheimer's, Getting a diagnosis, Accessed on line on September 30,2006, from Read More
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