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Alzeihmers Disease - Essay Example

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Frequently referred to as the "disease of the century," Alzheimer's disease is one of the most common causes of dementia (Edwards, Handy, Lancaster & Turnbull, 1998). It is a type of dementia syndrome that is described as a regression in memory and thinking that results to a considerable impairment in personal, social, and occupatonal function (Draper, 2004)…
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Alzeihmers Disease
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Alzeihmers Disease

Download file to see previous pages... Barker (2002) more concisely defined the disease as "a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by chronic personality disintegration and cognitive deficits, including confusion, disorientation, and stupor" (655). Furthermore, it is a global worsening of cognitive function in the existence of consciousness wherein persistent impairment of intellect compromises mental activities.
Although the explicit causes of Alzheimer's disease are still unbeknownst to professionals in the medical and scientific field, there are several theories that bring light to the etiology of the disease, which point to cell loss.
The abnormal beta-amyloid protein theory suggests that accumulations of amyloid-rich proteins in large concentrations in the brain are a possible cause, and this 42-amino acid piece of the amyloid precursor protein cannot be broken down (Barker, 2002).
On the other hand, dementia of the Alzheimer's type especially those whose onset is after the age of 65, may have a genetic component (Videbeck, 2004). This genetic predisposition is perceived to ba an autosomal dominant trait, which implies that first degree relatives of a person with Alzheimer's have four times the chance of developing the disease (Edwards et al., 1998). These genetic abnormalities are further related to the development of amyloid plaques in the brain, while other researches have found linkages in the defect of chromosome 21 (involved in Down Syndrome), 14, and 19 (Barker, 2002; Videbeck, 2004).
Another study implicated the e4 gene to be one of the causes of the disease. Although the e4 gene can be found in persons without dementia and not found in all persons with dementia, the presence of one copy of the gene in a person increases the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's three times more than in a person who does not have the gene (Sadock & Sadock, 2003). Respectfully, if a person has two copies of the e4 gene, that person's likelihood of developing the disease is four times as much.
Although difficult to prove, the slow-virus theory proposes that certain viruses with incubation periods of up to 30 years, enter through a disturbance in the blood-brain barrier. In addition, another unclear theory suggests that aluminum toxicity is relevant in the causes of Alzheimer's disease, since there were aluminum deposits found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease (Barker, 2002).
It has also been argued that inflammatory processes stimulate synthesis of the amyloid precursor protein and therefore contributes to its deposition and accumulation in the brain (Barker, 2002).
In addition to the above theories, there are several factors that have been known to influence the development of Alzheimer's, such as the role of estrogen in the brain, neurotransmitter deficiencies and dysfunction in brain cell communication and the effects of oxidative stress on brain cells, and the effects of acethycholine and anticholinergic agents in the learning and memory functions of the brain (Barker, 2002).
Signs and Symptoms
Alzheimer's disease manifests in the individual through a group of symptoms typical of the dementia syndrome (Greutzner, 2001). Giving a list of common symptoms would be a complex task, since the disease can present differently for every individual. However, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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