Alzheimer's disease is a brain disease that gradually impairs thinking and memory abilities as well as the capacity to do even the most basic tasks. Symptoms of the late-onset type typically begin to show in the majority of patients in their mid-60s. Rarely, early-onset Alzheimer's strikes between the ages of 30 and 60. For older persons, Alzheimer's disease is the most typical cause of dementia.
According to estimates, 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease. These people are mostly elderly, with a median age of 65. According to experts, there will be close to 14 million people with the illness by 2050, with the number anticipated to grow every 5 to 10 years. All of the available AD treatments are only effective for moderate symptoms, such as issues with reasoning and thinking, and not everyone benefits from them. Additionally, some substances have unfavorable side effects that are occasionally intolerable. There is no evidence that any of the known treatments can stop or slow the disease's course. However, fresh research is showing the way for future assistance.
The symptoms worsen as the brain neurons die, and the majority of AD patients need admission to long-term care institutions because they are unmanageable at home. Researchers have been looking for medicines that can either prevent or delay AD for the past thirty years. Finally, a breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease has been made in 2022 thanks to a better knowledge of how AD affects the brain's neurons. The majority of studies have concentrated on the plaques that develop in AD patients' brains. If one could figure out a technique to stop the buildup of plaques, one might be able to stop the symptoms from manifesting. These plaques form before the symptoms do.
These tests are used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease or to rule out other medical conditions that cause symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease:
The doctor will enquire about the patient's present and previous illnesses, the medications they are now taking, and any history of Alzheimer's disease or other memory impairments in the patient's family. Additionally, he or she will perform a neurologic exam and assess all current vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and pulse rate.
Standard laboratory tests such blood counts, vitamin levels, liver and kidney function, mineral balance, and thyroid gland function tests are done to rule out other potential causes of symptoms.
Tests of memory, problem-solving, concentration, counting, and language proficiency are among these. Testing of this kind can also track the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Tests for attention, memory, language, planning and reasoning, reasoning ability, ability to change behavior, personality, and emotional stability are all part of this exam. Testing of this kind can also track the development of Alzheimer's disease.
This procedure, which is also known as a lumbar puncture, looks for the tau and amyloid proteins that build the plaques and tangles that are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease in the brains of patients.
This scan reveals physical changes in the structure of brain tissue seen in the later changes of Alzheimer’s disease, including decrease in the size of the brain (atrophy), widening of the indentations of the brain tissues, and enlargement of the fluid-filled chambers of the brain.
Brain atrophy may also be visible on this scan. It can also detect other structural abnormalities, including as strokes, tumors, fluid buildup on the brain, and other conditions that can manifest symptoms resembling those of Alzheimer's disease. Latest breakthrough in Alzheimer's disease treatment
This kind of MRI monitors changes in blood flow to measure brain activity in a specific region. Researchers are using this test to examine how the brain alters throughout the course of Alzheimer's disease. It is also used to assess Alzheimer's disease treatments before a patient exhibits symptoms.
This scan demonstrates the unusual brain activity in an Alzheimer's patient. In contrast to other types of dementia, it can aid in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.
The amyloid protein accumulation in the brain is visible in this scan.
This scan demonstrates how efficiently brain cells utilise glucose. A decrease in glucose absorption is a symptom of Alzheimer's disease.
Studies and prospective treatments aimed at finding a cure for Alzheimer's have produced some encouraging results.
The amyloid protein plaques have received the majority of the present attention in the management of AD. These plaques, which are a defining characteristic of the condition, frequently form in the developing brain. These brain plaques increase the risk of developing AD symptoms in people compared to people without plaques. As a result, a number of medications (monoclonal antibodies) have been created to stop the development or clumping of these amyloid plaques. The monoclonal antibodies have only one target: amyloid beta, yet they are remarkably similar to the naturally occurring antibodies in the blood circulation.Unfortunately, not all AD patients have amyloid, and it is unknown why this is the case. Nearly 30%–35% of AD patients with mild to moderate illness are thought to not have brain amyloid and so may not respond to this therapy.
A monoclonal antibody known as Aducanumab was granted approval by the US Food and Drug Administration last year for the treatment of specific mild forms of AD. For the treatment of amyloid plaques in the brain, this is the only medication that has been licensed in the US. When the plaques are eliminated, the patient's memory, thinking, function, and behavior cease deteriorating and the brain cells stop dying. Whether the medication actually helps, though, is still up for question. While a few small studies have demonstrated that the medication not only reduces amyloid aggregation but also lessens symptoms, other clinical studies have revealed no benefit. Additionally, there are no long-term studies on this drug's potential to prevent dementia.