Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease. It is considered the primary reason why a person experiences dementia. Once a person is diagnosed to have Alzheimer’s disease, it is expected that he will experience progressive deterioration in intellect that will result in decline in his daily activity. The most significant of all the symptoms is loss in memory. Memory impairment starts with minor forgetfulness that progresses steadily, usually leading to what is called a stage of ‘second childhood.’ The memories retained usually are the older memories. As the disorder progresses, problems in the intellect continually spreads in range, affecting language, coordination of movements, recognition and decision-making abilities.
There are no actual tests that can be administered to a person who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease pre-mortem. The best way to find out if someone is suffering from the disorder is for the people closest to him to identify radical changes in behavior that may point to the possibility of Alzheimer’s.
Doctors have discovered that there are changes in the brain found in a patient diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The neuropathology or nerve cells do not function well and synapses are lost in important brain regions. Neurotransmitters like serotonin, acetylcholine, norepinephrine and somatostatin are present in below-normal levels, while glutamate levels are usually above normal.
There is no known cure for a person who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. The most that can be administered are inhibitors that can slow down the actual effects of the disease.
Vaccines are being developed to try to reverse the cause of Alzheimer’s disease in a patient. Animals injected with certain vaccines showed great progress, but once these were administered to human subjects, inflammation of the brain occurred. The vaccine tests were eventually stopped, but human test subjects’ conditions showed significant improvement.