Alzheimer's Disease

Essay by michael sangHigh School, 10th gradeA-, January 1996

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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...