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Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is a brain disease that slowly destroys brain cells. As of 2014, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. With time, the different symptoms of the disease become more marked. Many people die because of Alzheimer's disease. The disease affects different parts of the brain but has its worst effects on the areas of the brain that control memory, language, and thinking skills. Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of senile dementia accounting for up to 70% of cases.

The clinical symptoms of AD usually occurs after age 65, but changes in the brain which do not cause symptoms and are caused by Alzheimer's, may begin years or in some cases decades before. Although the symptoms of AD begin in older people it is not a normal part of aging.

At this time there is no cure for Alzheimer's, but there are treatments that can help some patients with the signs and symptoms so they do not affect them as badly. There are also treatments which slow down the disease so the damage to the brain does not happen as quickly. There are also certain personal habits that people can learn which may help to delay the onset of the disease.

While it is not yet known exactly what causes Alzheimer's disease, there are a number of risk factors which may make a person more likely to get it. Some of these risk factors are genetic; changes to four different genes have been found which increase the risk.

The current lifetime risk for a 65-year-old person to get Alzheimer's disease is estimated to be at 10.5%. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States causing about 83,500 deaths a year. In 2007, there were more than 26.6 million people throughout the world who were affected by AD.[1]

Alzheimer's disease was named after Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist who first described the disease after studying the case of a middle-aged woman, Auguste Deter, who was a patient at a hospital in Frankfurt, Germany in 1906.[2] The disease was named Alzheimer's disease in 1910 by Dr. Emil Kraepilin a co-worker of Alzheimer.