Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, an acquired progressive brain disorder. Currently, it is estimated that 44 million worldwide live with dementia, but the number is expected to triple by 2050 with an aging population. Memory loss and cognitive impairment from Alzheimer’s can interfere with one’s daily living.
Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be caused by an abnormal buildup of proteins in the brain. The initial damage occurs in the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus parts of the brain which are involved in memory.
Later into the disease process, the cerebral cortex becomes affected, which is responsible for language, reasoning, and social behavior. Eventually, other parts of the brain become damaged. Patients may have trouble finding the right words, have vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment in the early stages of the disease. As the disease progresses, those with AD may also have changes in their behavior or personality.
AD patients develop abnormal protein clumps (amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (Tau) in the brain. Another finding in Alzheimer’s disease is the loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Neurons transmit messages between parts of the brain, and from the brain to other parts of the body.