Alzheimer's Disease Essay

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Background: Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that becomes more prevalent with age. Discovered by German psychologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906, it is associated with a memory loss, speech impediment, and dementia. In Canada alone, 500,000 people suffer from this terrible disease and the number of cases is predicted to double by 2031[7]. Worldwide, nearly 44 million people are believed to be experiencing Alzheimer’s disease and every 68 seconds, someone in the United States of America develops Alzheimer’s [8]. Alzheimer’s disease is also the sixth leading cause of death in North America. Furthermore, it is the only leading cause of death that is still increasing in prevalence. Not only fatal, Alzheimer’s is also severely crippling for all the friends and family that are affected by the patient. The memory loss and dementia that is directly linked to Alzheimer’s disease can cause the patient to forget the identity of their loved ones. For the people that have known the patient for many years, this can be very devastating. The long and terrible journey from an able-bodied and functioning member of society to a barely self-sufficient person is not a pleasant one. Undoubtedly, Alzheimer’s disease needs to be cured not only for those suffering from the affliction, but for their loved ones who have to endure the fateful journey as well. Stages of Alzheimer’s: Alzheimer’s disease progresses at a very slow rate. Changes in the brain may begin to develop as much as twenty years before diagnosis [2] (Figure 1a). Mild to moderate Alzheimer’s (Figure 1b) may last two to ten years [2]. In this stage, there is very mild cognitive impairment including memory lapses in association with familiar words or location of objects... ... middle of paper ... ...neurons. As a result, many of the functions most humans take for granted such as eating, dressing, and remembering names is lost to those whose brain is impeded by the beta-amyloid plaques. Conclusion: Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease, the diagnosis of which marks a long and painful journey through neurofibrillary degeneration. Unfortunately, there are so many factors that lead to and expedite the disease that synthesizing a cure is no simple task by any means. Whether the cause of the disease is hyperphosphorylation of tau or beta-amyloid plaques, current medical technology can only delay the symptoms. Hopefully the future of medical research will yield a method for reversing the progression of the neurological degeneration because far too many victims and their friends and family are forced to embark on the long and painful journey of Alzheimer’s.

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