Many of today’s diseases did not exist in the Stone Age, but Alzheimer’s has likely been with us for as long as we’ve been able to live to old age.
The disease itself was named in the early 1900s after the German psychologist Alois Alzheimer. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include memory loss, poor judgment, confusion, language deterioration, confusion and mood swings.
Alzheimer’s eventually destroys cognition, personality and the ability to function. The early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease often are missed because loss of concentration and forgetfulness are simply natural signs of aging, such as the cognitive impairment known as senility. But much more than that, Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disease in which brain cells slowly die.
Age is the most important risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people with the disease doubles for every five years beyond age 65. Its cause is thought to be genetic, and there are at least three genes that have been discovered which are known to contribute to the disease.
While there is no cure, the first FDA-approved drug to slow Alzheimer’s disease was introduced in 1990. A handful of additional drugs have followed, and all of them work the same way: they slow cognitive impairment by boosting depleted levels of acetylcholine in the brain, which are crucial to the healthy functioning of neurons.
Current research focuses on ways to prevent the disease from developing to begin with. While early detection is key, there’s yet no simple test. Presently, only expensive MRIs and PET scans can detect the structural changes in the brain that indicate the development of Alzheimer’s disease before actual symptoms begin.
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin have been found to have a mediating effect, and environmental factors such as mentally demanding occupations, dance and chess have been found to decrease chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
According to researchers from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami, coffee also may lower your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. As published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, they found that there appears to be a “direct link” between preventing the offset of neuro-degenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s and dementia, and enjoying your coffee during the day.
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