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By: Regina Kindel
A Brief History Of Alzheimers DiseaseIt is important to understand the difference between the general forgetfulness that often accompanies old age and the onset of Alzheimer's. It is perfectly normal for older people to exhibit forgetfulness and mild forms of some of the other symptoms of Alzheimer's. This does not in any way mean that they are in the early stages of the onset of Alzheimer's, or that they will go on to develop a full-blown, extreme case of Alzheimer's. In addition, many other conditions can cause Alzheimer's like symptoms. A diagnosis from a professional medical doctor is the only way to be sure.Alzheimer Disease HistoryAlzheimer_s disease, named after the German psychologist Alois Alzheimer_s, seems to be a disease of the twentieth century, but the brain degeneration, cognitive impairment and disturbing behavioral and psychiatric problems which characterize the disease have most likely been around for centuries. A brief lesson in Alzheimer_s disease history tells us that while Dr. Alzheimer_s is the disease_s namesake, Alzheimer_s colleague Emil Kraepelin played an equally important role in the identification of the disease. Kraepelin isolated and grouped together the symptoms of the disorder, suggesting they were a unique disease process, while Alzheimer was the first to understand what was actually happening in the brains of Alzheimer_s patients. He discovered unusual plaques and tangles in the brain of one of his patients, a fifty year old woman, who exhibited the symptoms of the disorder identified by Kraepelin. After Kraepelin and Alzheimer_s identification of the disease in the early twentieth century, Alzheimer_s disease history shows that not many advances were made in understanding or treating the disease, which could only be diagnosed post-mortem with an autopsy, until the end of the twentieth century. The disease was first diagnosed in patients between the ages of 45 and 65 and labeled as "presenile dementia." The name Alzheimer_s disease only gained popularity in the 70s and 80s as a label for patients over the age of 65. Now the disease has recognizable and diagnosable symptoms, which can appear in patients as young as 30. Typically, an aggressive type of Alzheimer_s disease that occurs in patients under the age of 65 has a known genetic factor, while the appearance of the disease in patients over 65 has a number of other factors in regards to its development, such as health, occupation, and environment.Recent advances in science and technology have led to a promising new era in Alzheimer_s disease history. Cognex, the first FDA-approved drug used to slow the disease process, hit the markets in 1990, and three others soon followed. The medications slow cognitive impairment in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer_s disease by boosting depleted levels of acetylcholine in the brain, which are crucial to the healthy functioning of neurons. Other research is being done on ways to prevent Alzheimer_s from developing. Certain hormones such as estrogen and anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin have been found to have a mediating health tips using aloe vera effect, and environmental factors, such as mentally demanding occupations, dance, and chess have been found to decrease older people_s chances of developing Alzheimer_s. Even something as simple as wearing a seatbelt or helmet could be crucial to preventing Alzheimer_s disease.Early detection techniques are being honed to improve treatment of the disease. For example, genetic research has discovered genetic markers for Familial Alzheimer_s disease as well as non-familial Alzheimer_s. In addition, advanced technology, such as MRIs and PET scans, are being used to detect structural changes in the brain that may indicate the development of Alzheimer_s disease before symptoms even begin. As the Baby Boomer generation begins to age, scientists fear the strain a large number of dementia patients could place upon the healthcare and social welfare systems; therefore, researchers are scrambling to make Alzheimer_s disease history.
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