Dr Aidin Rawshani

Alzheimer’s disease: causes, symptoms, treatments, prognosis


What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia. Dementia is a broader term for various conditions that cause damage to brain tissue or diseases that have a negative impact on memory, thinking and behavior. These changes disrupt daily life and cause many other problems for the affected as well as relatives.

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all cases of dementia. Most people with the disease get their diagnosis after 65 years of age. Alzheimer’s, however, can be diagnosed before the age of 65, then it is generally called premature onset of Alzheimer’s disease. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatments that can slow the progression of the disease.

Short facts about Alzheimer’s

Most people have heard of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, many, however, do not know exactly what these diseases are. Here below are some facts about the permits.

  • Alzheimer’s disease is a chronically ongoing condition.
  • Symptoms come gradually and the effects on the brain are degenerative, which means that they cause slow decay of brain cells (neuron).
  • There is no cure for Alzheimer’s but treatment can help slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life.
  • Anyone can get Alzheimer’s disease but some people are at higher risk as a result of heredity or other factors.
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia are not the same thing. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia.
  • Some people live long with mild cognitive lesions, while others experience a faster onset of symptoms and disease progression.
  • Each person’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease is different.

The difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s

The terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” are sometimes used alternately. Alheimer is a type of dementia disease.

Dementia is a broader term for conditions with symptoms related to memory loss such as forgetfulness and confusion. Dementia includes specific conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury and other conditions, all of which can cause these symptoms. Causes, symptoms and treatments may be different for these diseases.

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s

Scientists and other experts have not been able to establish a cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but they have identified certain risk factors.

Risk factors

  • Age: Most people who develop Alzheimer’s disease are 65 years or older.
  • Family history: If you have an immediate family member who has developed the condition, you are more likely to get it.
  • Genetics: Some genes have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Depression: Untreated depression can be in the elderly remind of dementia because many of the symptoms are similar.

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. However, it raises your level of risk. To learn more about your individual risk of developing the condition, talk to your doctor. Learn about amyloid plaques, neurofibrillar misfolded proteins and other factors that can cause Alzheimer’s disease.


Although there is no identifiable cause for Alzheimer’s, genetics can play a key role. In particular, there is a gene that is of interest to researchers, apolipoprotein E (APOE). This gene that has been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults.

Blood tests can determine if you have this gene that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Even if you don’t have this gene, you can develop Alzheimer’s disease. There is no way to determine for sure whether someone will develop Alzheimer’s. Other genes may also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and early onset of Alzheimer’s disease.


Everyone has episodes of forgetfulness, but people with Alzheimer’s disease continuously show deviant behaviours and symptoms that worsen over time. These include the following:

  • Memory loss affecting daily activities, such as the ability to hold meetings
  • Problems with everyday tasks, such as using a microwave oven
  • Difficulties with problem solving
  • Problems with speech or writing
  • Become confused about times or places
  • Poor judgement
  • Impaired personal hygiene
  • Mood and Personality changes
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and community
  • All symptoms worsen over time

The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is difficulty in remembering newly learned information because alzheimer’s changes usually begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. As the disease progresses through the brain, it leads to increasingly serious symptoms.

Symptoms of advanced dementia

  • Disorientation
  • Mood and behavioural changes
  • Dizziness and confusion around events, time and place
  • Unfounded suspicions of family, friends and professional caregivers
  • Severe memory loss and behavioural changes
  • Difficulties in speaking, swallowing and walking.

Signs of dementia may be more obvious to family members or friends. Anyone who experiences dementia-like symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Different stages of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, which means that the symptoms will gradually worsen over time. Alzheimer’s is divided into seven stages:

  • Stage 1: There are no symptoms at this stage, but there may be early diagnostic characteristic
  • Stage 2: The earliest symptoms appear, such as forgetfulness.
  • Stage 3: Mild physical and mental impairments occur, such as worsening memory and concentration difficulties. These can only be noticed by someone who is very close to the person.
  • Stage 4: Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed at this stage, but it is still considered to be mild. Memory loss and inability to perform everyday tasks is obvious.
  • Stage 5: Moderate to severe symptoms require help from loved ones or caregivers.
  • Stage 6: At this stage, a person with Alzheimer’s may need help with basic tasks, such as eating and putting on clothes.
  • Stage 7: This is the most serious and final stage of Alzheimer, there may be loss of speech and face expressions.
  • When a person goes from stage 1 to stage 7, they will need increased support from a caregiver.

Alzheimer’s who debuts early in life

Alzheimer’s usually affects people aged 65 years or older. However, it can occur in people as young as 40 or 5 years old. This type of Alzheimer’s disease affects about 5 percent of all people with the disease.

Symptoms of early onset of Alzheimer’s include mild memory loss and problems with concentrating or completing everyday tasks. It may be difficult to find the right word, and you have difficulty keeping track of time. find out the time. Mild vision problems, such as determining distances. Some people are at greater risk of developing this condition.

Diagnosing dementia

The only way to diagnose someone with Alzheimer’s disease is to examine their brain tissue after they’ve passed away. Your doctor may prescribe other examinations and tests to assess your mental abilities, diagnose dementia and exclude other conditions.

  • Symptom
  • Family medical history
  • Other current or previous health states
  • Current or previous medication
  • Diet, alcohol intake or other lifestyle habits

From here, your doctor is likely to order several tests to determine if you have Alzheimer’s disease.


There is no definite test for Alzheimer’s disease. However, your doctor will most likely do several tests to determine your diagnosis. These can be mental, physical, neurological and imaging tests.

Your doctor usually starts the investigation by examining the cognitive abilities of the patient. This means assessing your short-term memory, long-term memory and orientation to location and time. For example, they can ask you:

  • What day it is?
  • Who the Prime Minister is?
  • To remember and repeat a short list of words?

After that, most likely, they will conduct a physical examination. For example, they can control your blood pressure, assess your heart rate and take your temperature. In some cases, they may collect urine, blood tests or spinal fluid for laboratory tests.

Your doctor may also conduct a neurological examination to exclude other possible diagnoses, such as infection or stroke. During this examination, the doctor will check your reflexes, muscle tone. speech skills and other features.

Your doctor may also order examination methods that depict the brain. These surveys include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): MRI can help identify key markers, such as inflammation, bleeding and structural problems.
  • Computed tomography (CT): CT takes X-rays that can help your doctor look for abnormal properties of your brain.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET): PET scan can help your doctor detect the accumulation of plaques in the brain tissue. Plaque is a group of proteins that are connected with Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Other examinations your doctor may prescribe include blood tests to check genes that may indicate that you are at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Behandling mot Alzheimers

There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, your doctor may recommend medications and other treatments to alleviate your symptoms and delay the progression of the disease for as long as possible.

For early to moderate Alzheimer’s, your doctor may prescribe medicines such as donepezil (Aricept), galantamine or rivastigmine (Exelon). These drugs can help maintain high levels of acetylcholine in the brain. This is a type of neurotransmitter that can help your memory.

To treat moderate to severe Alzheimer’s, your doctor may prescribe donepezil (Aricept) or memantine (Namenda). Memantine can help block the effects of excess glutamate. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter in the brain (neurotransmitter) that is released in higher amounts in Alzheimer’s disease and damages brain cells.

Your doctor may also recommend antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs or antipsychotics to treat symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease.

Mental diseases that can occur in dementia and Alzheimer’s

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Restlessness
  • Aggression Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion

Other treatments at Alzheimer’s

In addition to medication, lifestyle changes can help you cope with your disease condition. For example, your doctor may develop strategies to help you or your relative:

  • Focusing on tasks
  • To minimize confusion
  • Avoid agitation at “new meetings”
  • Get enough rest every day
  • Stay calm

Some believe that vitamin E can help prevent the decline in mental abilities, but studies suggest that more research is needed. Be sure to ask your doctor before taking vitamin E or other supplements. It can interfere with some of the medications used to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition to lifestyle changes, there are several other options that you can ask your doctor about.

Preventing the emergence of dementia

Just as there is no known remedy for Alzheimer’s, there are no safe preventive measures. However, researchers focus on general healthy lifestyle habits as a way to prevent cognitive decline.

The following measures can prevent the onset of dementia diseases

  • Quit smoking.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Try cognitive exercise exercises
  • Eat a healthy diet (LCHF, Glycemic index, Vegetarian diet, etc)
  • Consume more antioxidants.
  • Maintain an active social life.
  • Be sure to talk to your doctor before you make any major changes in your lifestyle.

Caring for relatives with Alzheimer’s

If you have a relative or partner with Alzheimer’s, consider becoming a caregiver. This is a full-time job that is usually not easy but can be very rewarding, especially for the sufferer who feels more confident but people they recognize since before.

Being a caregiver requires a lot of skills. Many do not realize how much patience is required to care for relatives with dementia. It is difficult for relatives or partners to see their loved ones suffer from a disease that affects memory, thinking, behavior and perseverance.

As a caregiver, it is important to take care of yourself as well as your loved one. Caring for a loved one can lead to increased risk of stress, poor eating habits and lack of exercise and social activities. It is important to take care of oneself to do a better job as a caregiver to relatives or partners.

If you choose to take the role of caregiver, you may need help from professional caregivers and family members to help.

Support for people with dementia

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but drugs are available that can help alleviate and slow down some of the symptoms.

Various other types of support are also available to help people with Alzheimer’s to live as independently as possible, such as making changes to your home environment so that it is easier to move around and remember daily tasks.

Psychological treatments such as cognitive therapy can also be offered to support your memory, problem-solving skills and language skills.

Statistics on dementia and Alzheimer’s

The statistics surrounding Alzheimer’s disease are frightening. Today, almost 50 million people suffer from dementia around the world, this figure is expected to rise to about 140 million by 2030, according to estimates from various health authorities. In Sweden, the number of cases of dementia is expected to increase avalanche. In 2030, approximately 230,000 people are estimated to have dementia in Sweden. Thus, the demands on society to expand support and help for individuals and their relatives are increasing. We have an increasingly ageing populations that live longer and survive diseases such as cancer and heart complications.

Age is the strongest risk factor for dementia, the risk of dementia and alzheimer’s increases with age.

The link between rising age and dementia

  • 75-79 years – about 6 percent have dementia.
  • 80-84 years – about 13 percent have dementia.
  • 85-89 years – about 26 percent have dementia.
  • +90 years – about 45 percent have dementia.

If you think you or a relative/partner may have Alzheimer’s or other dementia, your first step is to talk to your family doctor. They can help find a diagnosis, discuss what to expect and help you with support. If you are interested, they can also provide you with information about participating in clinical trials.

Changes that occur in the brain tissue

Microscopic changes in the brain begin long before the first signs of memory loss.The brain has 100 billion neurons (neurons). Each nerve cell is connected to many others to form communication networks. Groups of nerve cells have special jobs. Some are involved in thinking, learning and memory. Others help us see, hear and smell.

To do their work, brain cells (neuron) act as small factories. They receive supplies, from the blood, generate energy, construct proteins and other substances and dispose of waste. Cells process and store information and communicate with other cells. To keep the entire machinery going requires good interaction between nerve cells and large amounts of fuel and oxygen.

Plaque and “tangles”

Currently, scientists believe that structures called amyloid plaques and “neurofibrillar tangles” cause damage and kill nerve cells.

  • Plaque is a protein fragment called beta-amyloid that builds up in the gaps between nerve cells.
  • Tangles are twisted fibers of another protein called tau that builds up inside cells.

Although autopsy studies show that most people develop some plaques and tangles as they age, with Alzheimer’s they tend to develop significantly more and in a predictable pattern, starting in those areas that are important for memory before spreading to other regions.

Scientists do not know exactly what role plaques and tangles play in Alzheimer’s disease. Most experts believe that they somehow play a crucial role in blocking communication between nerve cells and disrupting the processes that cells need to survive.

It is the destruction and destruction of nerve cells that cause memory impairment, personality changes, problems with carrying out daily activities and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is a general term that describes dementia-like symptoms caused by brain damage from impaired blood flow to the brain.

You can develop vascular dementia after a stroke blocks an artery in the brain, but stroke does not always cause vascular dementia. Whether a stroke affects your thinking and reasoning depends on the severity and location of your stroke. Vascular dementia can also be due to other conditions that damage blood vessels and reduce circulation, depriving your brain of important oxygen and nutrients.

Factors that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, including type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and smoking also increase the risk of vascular dementia. Controlling these factors can help reduce your chances of developing vascular dementia.

Symptoms of vascular dementia

Symptoms of vascular dementia vary depending on which part of the brain where the blood flow is impaired. Symptoms often overlap with other types of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease.

Signs and symptoms include

  • Confusion
  • Problems with attention and concentration skills
  • Inability to organize thoughts or actions
  • Reduced ability to analyze a situation, develop an effective plan and communicate that plan to other
  • Difficulty deciding what to do
  • Problems with memory
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Unsteady walking posture
  • Sudden or frequent urge to urinate or inability to control bladder
  • Depression or apathy

Diabetes and dementia

Diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Good blood sugar control, exercise habits and a healthy diet can reduce the risk of future dementias.

There is a lot of research that suggests a link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s, although these connections are not yet fully understood. Not all studies confirm the relationship, but many suggest that people with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, are at higher risk of eventually developing Alzheimer’s dementia or vascular dementia.

How does high blood sugar contribute to dementia?

Diabetes can cause several complications, such as damage to blood vessels. Diabetes is considered a risk factor for vascular dementia. This type of dementia occurs due to brain damage often caused by reduced or blocked blood flow to parts of the brain.

Many people with diabetes have brain changes that are seen in both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Research shows that high blood sugar in some way damages the brain cells (neurons) and also causes local inflammation in the brain, a long-standing low-grade inflammation can cause cognitive changes.

Ongoing research aims to better understand the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. This link can arise as a result of the complex ways that type 2 diabetes affects the ability of the brain and other body tissues to use sugar (glucose) and respond to insulin.

Diabetes may also increase the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition in which people experience more cognitive and memory problems than usual in normal ageing. Some studies suggest that diabetes may increase the risk of MCI deteriorating into dementia. Mild cognitive impairment may precede or accompany Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

When researching the relationships between diabetes and Alzheimer’s, researchers also study possible ways of preventing or treating both diseases. But a recent study with intranasal insulin showed no cognitive benefit.

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