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Alzheimer’s Disease

 

 

Federico Ortíz-Moreno *

 

 

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the decrease of intellectual functions, with a consequent loss of memory, deterioration and inability to think properly. The person affected with Alzheimer’s suffers a drastic change of personality, with a tendency to be depressed or irritable. They can no longer follow instructions, are confused and disoriented in relationship to time and space. They also can get lost in places well-known to them. There are alterations in their judgment, such as, mistaking family members and in many cases they do not remember who they are. These are some of the questions more frequently asked in relation to Alzheimer’s disease. If you want more information, feel free to get in touch with the Alzheimer Association of Monterrey, Nuevo León, México. We will be glad to help you in any way we can.

 

 

 

 

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the decrease of intellectual functions, with a consequent loss of memory, deterioration and inability to think properly. The person affected with Alzheimer’s suffers a drastic change of personality, with a tendency to be depressed or irritable. They can no longer follow instructions, are confused and disoriented in relationship to time and space. They also can get lost in places well-known to them. There are alterations in their judgment, such as, mistaking family members and in many cases they do not remember who they are. These are some of the questions more frequently asked in relation to Alzheimer’s disease. If you want more information, feel free to get in touch with the Alzheimer Association of Monterrey, Nuevo León, México. We will be glad to help you in any way we can.

 

What is Alzheimer’s?

 

Alzheimer (pronounced alz-jai-mer), is a progressive disease and causes degeneration of the brain, provoking loss of memory, the ability to organize ones thoughts and a change of behaviour in the person. Also, it produces a decrease in the intellectual functions of the person, enough to interfere with the capacity to carry out daily activities of ordinary life.

 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common of all dementias: scientifically it is defined as such. Its name comes from a german doctor, Alois Alzheimer, who for the first time in 1907 described the disease. It is irreversible and there is no cure for it up to the moment. This disease is known to destroy little by little the neurons of the brain, obstructing the free passage of information between cells and finally loosing contact with the world.

 

 

What are the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s?

 

Many of the first symptoms are not easily noticed because they look like natural signs of aging: forgetfulness, loss of concentration, difficulty in coordinating movements and speech. The most common symptoms are:

 

  • Progressive loss of memory.

  • Confused and disoriented in to time and space.

  • Lose, leave or hide things in unusual places.

  • Shows signs of agitation, anxiety or nervousness.

  • Wanting to leave the house, arguing that it is not his/hers.

  • Getting lost, even in his/her own neighbourhood

  • Not recognizing close relatives: husband, wife, children

  • Looks tired, quiet, sad or depressed

  • Is tense, restless, irritable or aggressive

  • Paranoid, i.e: suspects of everyone around them

  • Hallucinates, seeing things that are not there or hearing noises that do not exist.  

 

 

What causes Alzheimer’s disease?

 

The cause of Alzheimer’s is not known yet. Recent studies held by scientists, doctors and investigators show a growing evidence of multiple factors in the origin of the disease. There are also more growing evidences showing that Alzheimer's disease it is due or has a component or genetic character. The investigators have found that some genes in one way or another can cause the disease. These genes are located in the chromosomes 1, 12, 14, 19 and 21.

 

Of course, you can not let other factors go unchecked, such as a virus, toxic agents, environmental agents, metals, electromagnetic fields, inflammatory reactions or blows on the head that could possibly provoke a general dysfunction of the organism and the behaviour of the person in a combined or isolated form. Also, by experience, it is known that there are other factors that exist and in a certain manner can cause an earlier appearance of the disease. These factors can be seen earlier for different reasons:

 

  • Death of a spouse, child or a close family member.

  • Change of residence.

  • Car accident, even if they do not have suffered injury.

  • Some types of surgery or a reaction to anaesthetic.

  • Suffering a fall or a blow on the head.

  • Retirement or being discharged from work.

  • Have been assaulted or attacked.

  • Tension or emotional stress.

 

 

Who can suffer from or is liable to have Alzheimer’s?

 

Anyone can have Alzheimer’s. It does not distinguish nationality, race ethnic group or social level. It affects equally both: men and women, but there are more cases of women with Alzheimer’s considering the fact that they live longer. Generally speaking, it is found in persons between 65 and 70 years of age, but there are cases of people 50 or even younger (40) that have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

 

 

What do we know in Mexico about Alzheimer’s?

 

It is the fourth principal cause of death in people up to the age of 65, after heart disease, cancer and diabetes. It is estimated that there are some 500 thousand (half million) people affected with Alzheimer’s in Mexico.

 

In Monterrey, according to an anonymous applied to the relatives of persons with Alzheimer's the number of cases in the metropolitan area, could reach up to 35,000. That is a relationship of 60% women against 40% men.

 

 

What do we know in Mexico about Alzheimer’s?

 

It is the fourth principal cause of death in people up to the age of 65, after heart disease, cancer and diabetes. It is estimated that there are some 500 thousand (half million) people affected with Alzheimer’s in Mexico.

 

In Monterrey, according to an anonymous applied to the relatives of persons with Alzheimer's the number of cases in the metropolitan area, could reach up to 35,000. That is a relationship of 60% women against 40% men.

 

 

What causes Alzheimer’s disease?

 

The cause of Alzheimer’s is not known yet. Recent studies held by scientists, doctors and investigators show a growing evidence of multiple factors in the origin of the disease. There are also more growing evidences showing that Alzheimer's disease it is due or has a component or genetic character. The investigators have found that some genes in one way or another can cause the disease. These genes are located in the chromosomes 1, 12, 14, 19 and 21.

 

Of course, you can not let other factors go unchecked, such as a virus, toxic agents, environmental agents, metals, electromagnetic fields, inflammatory reactions or blows on the head that could possibly provoke a general dysfunction of the organism and the behaviour of the person in a combined or isolated form. Also, by experience, it is known that there are other factors that exist and in a certain manner can cause an earlier appearance of the disease. These factors can be seen earlier for different reasons:

 

  • Death of a spouse, child or a close family member.

  • Change of residence.

  • Car accident, even if they do not have suffered injury.

  • Some types of surgery or a reaction to anaesthetic.

  • Suffering a fall or a blow on the head.

  • Retirement or being discharged from work.

  • Have been assaulted or attacked.

  • Tension or emotional stress.

 

 

How can a good diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease be carried out?

 

Before a good diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is considered, it is necessary the evaluation of four important aspects:

 

  • A good medical record that includes symptoms and observed changes.

  • A complete physical check-up with blood and urine exams.

  • A neurological exam, including X-Rays, CT Scan, EEG (electroencephalogram) and a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

  • A mental or psychological exam of the state of mind of the person or the more commonly known mini-mental exam (MMSE).

 

 

Is there any cure for Alzheimer’s disease today?

 

At this moment there is no known cure in order to combat or to stop Alzheimer’s; however, scientists, doctors and investigators in all parts of the world are working on it. The medications most common employed here are Aricept (donepezilo), also known as Eranz. A second medication is Exelon, also known as Rivastigmina.

 

Other new drug is Galantamina (Reminyl), which has demonstrated not only an improvement on cognitive symptoms, but also on behaviour, like apathy, agitation and psychosis.  Now, Memantine or Namenda is one of the new medicaments more used. This drug works on the nervous system in the sending of messages. It seems that the progress of Alzheimer decreases in the last stage. Akatinol (Merz) and Ebixa (Lundbeck) are the commercial names in Mexico.

 

Finally, Tacrine (Cognex), is not being used anymore, mainly because it is known to cause hepatic problems. It is Important to understand that all these maledictions are not precisely used in order to cure, but to help the person to be a little bit more lucid and calm. Also, one must mention that these medications work only in the first and part of the second stage of the disease, not in an advanced stage. Finally, we have to mention that some of these maledictions may cause side effects and not necessarily one works better than the other.

 

For the moment, the best alternative is to give them the best of us, the best quality of life possible, treating them with tenderness, love, affection, understanding and respect.  

 

 

  

Algunos datos:

 

   ALZHEMER / Los números...    
     

 

  • En el mundo existen más de 36 millones de personas con Alzheimer.

  • Cada año 4.6 millones de personas más.

  • Un nuevo caso cada 4 segundos.  

  • El número de casos se duplica cada 20 años.

  • Para el 2030: Más de 75 millones.

  • Para el 2040: Más de 81 millones.  

  • Para el 2050: Más de 135 millones.  

  • En México: Más de 800 mil personas.

 

   
 
 
 
 
 
   

* Datos tomados de la ADI y otras fuentes.     

 

 

Información tomada de apuntes personales y fuentes varias.  

 

 


 

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