szeli006: March 2012 Archives

Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of dementia, associated with tangles and plaques in the brain. Affecting memory, thinking, and behavior, it starts off slowly. At first, a patient has mild memory loss - they may repeat themselves, display poor judgement, or understand new ideas more slowly. As it progresses, they need help to remember to eat or bathe. They may become clingy or irascible. In the final stages, they become totally dependent on others, displaying extreme memory loss.
Currently, the exact cause of Alzheimer's is unknown, but there appears to be a genetic basis. For the early onset variety (before age 65), most cases are caused by mutations in presenilins 1 and 2 or amyloid precursor protein. This causes greater production of Aβ42, which forms the characteristic brain plaques. For the other "sporadic" cases, some genes appear to be connected to the disease. For example, he APOE ε4 gene is present in 40 to 80% of people with Alzheimer's, but the gene itself does not guarantee the disease.
There's currently no cure, but researchers are working to change that. One tactic among many is a vaccine that the would prevent Aβ42 from building up to form brain plaques, and to possibly break down existing plaques.
As far as prevention today goes, researchers advise maintaining blood pressure, eating a low fat diet, and keeping active mentally and socially. It's also recommended to eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as eating less linoleic acid ands more antioxidants.

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