Introduction to Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive degenerative disease of
the brain. It is first described by the German neuropathologist Alois
Alzheimer (1864-1915) in 1905. This disease worsens with advancing age,
although there is no evidence that it is cause by the aging process.
The average life expectancy of a person with the disease is between
five and ten years, but some patients today can live up to 15 years due to
improvements in care and medical treatments. The cause of Alzheimer's
has not been discovered yet and it cannot be possible to confirm a person
has Alzheimer's until their autopsy following death.
How does Alzheimer's develop
What causes Alzheimer's? Well no one know exactly the
of this debilitating disease. But recent advances has produced several clues
as to how it is born. Initially when we study the brain of a Alzheimer's
victim, we focus on two specific areas.
One is the cortex of the frontal and
cerebral lobes1. The second is the hippocampus (meaning seahorses in
Greek which it resembles2) which is located below the cerebral cortex and
responsible for short-term memory. If we study samples of these two
section, we would find three irregularities which are not found in normal
brain matter. These three are called neurofibrillary tangles, neuritic plagues
and granulovacuolar degeneration3.
A nerve cell has numerous axons and dendrites coming out of it. A
neurofibrillary tangle is when the neuron changes. A number of dendrites
are missing and the nucleus is filled with protein filaments resembling steel
Although all elderly people has a few of these helix shaped bundles in their
brain for they are normal indicators of aging, Alzheimer's patients has more
than usual. Their presence usually in the frontal and temporal lobes is a
indication of AD.
Senile neuritic plagues are...