Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease – Causes and Symptoms
Dementia is the term used to describe a group of symptoms involving cognition. To be diagnosed with dementia, a patient must have a disturbance in memory and a decline in one or more cognitive domain that includes language, praxis, executive function, or visuospatial function. Those suffering from dementia tend to have increasing trouble remembering things, such as how to do simple math, how to pay bills, and how to get to familiar locations. They may also have difficulty concentrating on tasks and experience personality changes. Dementia is usually a degenerative condition and cannot be prevented or reversed.
The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease . Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition that slowly destroys brain cells, destroying a person’s ability to learn, remember, and function normally. The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not yet known, but studies suggest that plaques and neurofibrillary tangles within the nerve cells are involved in the condition’s development. These factors begin by compromising the function of the hippocampus (memory center) and slowly moving throughout the brain.
While the cause of the disease remains unknown, some factors may increase your chances of developing the Alzheimer’s. These risk factors include:
- Being 65 years old or older
- Family history of Alzheimer’s
- Down’s syndrome, or Down’s in a first-degree relative
- Lower educational achievement
- Previous serious, traumatic brain injury
- Women under 35 who give birth to a child with Down’s syndrome
- Elevated levels of homocysteine
- Heart disease
The roles of certain factors such as poor nutrition in childhood, excess metal in the blood, certain viral infections, diabetes, and high cholesterol in the development of Alzheimer’s disease are currently being evaluated.
Alzheimer’s disease begins with mild memory lapses before it progresses to a more profound loss of memory and function. The symptoms of the disease correlate with other types of dementia. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s or any known way to slow its progression. If you would like to learn more about this disease or how to support a loved one with this diagnosis, please contact Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center at (702) 880-2100.