Berl., 1993, 85(3):260-6. Beyreuther, K. Regulation and expression of the Alzheimer?s Beta amyloid protein in Down?s Syndrome. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 1993, 695: 91-102.
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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive and fatal form of dementia, frequently seen in the elderly altering their cognition, thought process and behavior. AD is reported in about half of patients that have a dementia diagnosis; one study states that about 10.3% of the population over 65 years is affected by dementia with an increase to almost 50% over the age of 85. (Beattie, 2002) Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of the aging process in humans, but rather found in a group of diseases that affect the brain leading to a decline in mental and physical control. AD when diagnosed has a very slow and gradual course, initially affecting the individual’s short term memory. (Beattie, 2002) Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death, affecting more than five million people in the United States and is also one of the most common forms of dementia.
In 1989 that figure tripled to 12% and the government expects that figure to rise to 23% by the year 2030 (Medical,1991,p.13). This increase has brought with it a large increase in diseases associated with old age. Alzheimer's dementia (AD) is one of the most common and feared diseases afflicting the elderly community. AD, once thought to be a natural part of aging, is a severely debilitating form of mental dementia. Although some other types of dementia are curable or effectively treatable, there is currently no cure for the Alzheimer variety.
In addition to the anatomical abnormalities, DS patients suffer from biochemical imbalances including elevated levels of purines - a condition that can by itself lead to neurological impairment, mental retardation, and immunodeficiencies. The life expectancy for DS patients is approximately 30 years. However, with advancing medical care and therapy more patients are living to the age of 50. All individuals with DS over the age of 35 develop the same kind of abnormal microscopic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain as people who die from Alzheimer’s disease, the major cause of presenile dementia. Although a vast amount of literature exists on DS, little is known about why the presence of an extra chromosome causes mental retardation.
Alzheimer's Disease Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a progressive degenerative disease of unknown aetiology, as first described by Alois Alzheimer (1907). According to Shoenberg et. al (1987), it is the commonest cause of dementia in the elderly with an incidence ranging from 2.5 to 5 per thousand. Furthermore, this incidence has grown in recent years as a result people generally living longer. The disease is incurable at present but there are drug treatments that delay the symptoms in the early stages.
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Vascular dementia is found to be most prevalent in people aged 60-75 years and is more prevalent amongst the male population in comparison to female. Vascular dementia is seen to result in progressive deterioration of the higher functions of the brain for example memory, recognition, the ability to learn new information and fine motor movements (Alzheimer, Scotland, 2002). These changes commonly occur in a stepwise pattern due to the sudden occurrence of strokes. The features common to vascular dementia which characterise the disease include loss of memory and problems with forgetting recent events. The clarity of speech may alter resulting in difficulties in communicating.