To raise the awareness about Alzheimer’s and Dementia , World Alzheimer’s Day is observed very year on 21st of September.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other forms of dementia are a growing public health problem among the elderly in developing countries. In India, an estimate of more than 4 million people suffer from some form of dementia.
AD is the most common type of dementia, which is a clinical syndrome that involves progressive cognitive impairment.
It includes impaired memory, language, reasoning, decision making, attention, and orientation. Deterioration of intellectual function is often accompanied by changes in personality, emotional and social behaviours which affects work, social activities, personal relationships and ability to perform routine daily activities (personal care, cooking, managing finance, driving etc).
It is a multifactorial disease, with several modifiable and non modifiable risk factors associated with its development and progression discussed below :-
1) Age is the greatest risk factor.
2) Evidence suggests that cerebrovascular risk factors play a significant role. Eg, people with a history of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and smoking have are at high risk of AD.
3) Family history of AD in first-degree relatives and a history of head injury and loss of consciousness.
Diagnosis of AD
It is largely based on medical history, physical and neurological examinations, and neuropsychological evaluation.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - can help pick up key markers, such as inflammation, bleeding, and structural issues.
Computed tomography (CT) scan.- take X-ray images which can help your doctor look for abnormal characteristics in your brain.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan- images can help your doctor detect plaque buildup, a protein substance related to Alzheimer’s symptoms.
The presence and distribution of amyloid plaques and NFT (primary markers)in the brain is used to establish the stage of the disease.
Tips to reduce risk of AD
Maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
Include vegetables and fruits, whole grains,
Protein - chicken, fatty fish
vegetarian protein- tofu, beans, other legumes
Healthy fats - coconut oil, flaxseed oil, nuts , seeds
Recognising early symptoms
Memory loss is most prominent factor.
Inability to comprehend faces and objects.
Marked decline in the ability to reason, judge and solve problems.
Treatment of AD
Unfortunately, there is no certain cure for AD. Drug therapy and approved medications for the treatment may control the symptoms but cannot slow down the progression or reverse the course of the disease. Drugs target neurotransmitter systems in the brain and show their action. Also, only FDA approved drugs under doctor’s prescription should be taken.
Non drug based strategies :-
- Participation in activities, which can improve mood
- Behavioural interventions (to help with common changes, such as aggression, sleep issues and agitation)
- Education about the disease
- Building a care team for support
Currently, dozens of therapies and pharmacologic treatments that focus on stopping the brain cell death associated with Alzheimer’s are underway.