Alzheimer's disease is caused by parts of the brain shrinking (atrophy), which affects the structure and function of particular brain areas.
It's not known exactly what causes this process to begin. However,in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, scientistshave foundamyloid plaques (abnormal deposits of protein), neurofibrillary tangles (containing tau) and imbalances in a chemical called acetylcholine.
It's also common to have a degree of vascular damage in the brain.
Thesereduce the effectiveness ofhealthy neurons (nerve cells that carry messages to and from the brain), gradually destroying them.
Over time, this damage spreads toseveral areas of the brain. The first areas affected are responsible for memories.
Although it's still unknown what triggersAlzheimer's disease,several factors are known to increase your risk of developing the condition.
Age is the single most significant factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease. The likelihood of developing the condition doubles every five years after you reach 65 years of age.
However, it's not just older people who are at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Around1 in20people with the condition are under 65.This is called early onset Alzheimer's disease andit can affect people from around the age of 40.
The genes you inherit fromyour parents can contribute to your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, although the actual increase in risk is small if you have aclose family member with the condition.
However, in a few families, Alzheimer's disease is caused by the inheritance of a single gene, and the risks of the conditionbeing passed on are much higher.
If several of your family members have developed dementia over the generations, it may be appropriate to seek genetic counselling for information and advice about your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease when you are older.
The Alzheimer'sSociety website has more information about the genetics of dementia .
People with Trisomy 21 are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
This is because the genetic fault that causes Down's syndrome can also cause amyloid plaques to build up in the brain over time, which can lead to Alzheimer's disease in some people.
People who have had a severe head injury have been found to be at higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
Research shows that several lifestyle factors and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease can increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
You can help reduce your risk by:
Alzheimer's is a disease which causes patients to be affected by memory loss. Memory loss if a neurological disorder, which affects many functions of the brain as well as memory recollection.
The symptoms of Alzheimer's gradually worsen with the passage of time. At times, at the onset of the disease they can be mistaken for other ageing related conditions. Alzheimer's is treated according to the severity of the symptoms.
Alzheimer's disease is caused by parts of the brain shrinking (atrophy), which affects the structure and function of particular brain areas. The causes of this disease have as of yet not been elucidated.
It's best to see your GP if you're worried about your memory or think you may have dementia. A timely diagnosis gives you the best chance to adjust, prepare and plan for the future.
There's currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease, although medication is available that can temporarily reduce some symptoms or slow down the progression of the condition in some people.
As the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is still unknown, there's no way to prevent the condition. However, there are steps you can take that may help to delay the onset of dementia.
Stan Lintern has had Alzheimer's disease for 10 years. He is cared for by his wife Denise, who helped to set up the Maidstone branch of the Alzheimer's Society.