Introduction

Alzheimer's disease (AD; OMIM no. 104300) is a progressive and degenerative disorder that attacks the brain, which was first described by Alois Alzheimer.[1] Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia and is a major cause of death and disability in developed countries. The main symptoms of the disease are memory loss, cognitive impairment, deterioration of motor skills, and withdrawal from social contact. The clinical diagnosis can be difficult to establish and it is only confirmed by postmortem microscopic examination of the brain. The typical features of the neuropathological examination are: cerebral cortical atrophy, the presence of amyloid plaques in the extracellular space composed mainly of p-amyloid (Ap) peptide, deposition of amyloid in the wall of blood vessels, and the presence of intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangles, consisting of hyperphosphorylated microtubule-associated protein tau.

Alzheimer's disease can be familial or sporadic and its complex etiology comprises both genetic and environmental factors. In most cases, the symptoms of the disease appear after 65 years of age (late-onset form); however, around 5% of all AD cases have an early onset (i.e., before age 65 years).[2,3] Sixty-one percent of patients with early-onset AD had a positive family history and 13% had affected individuals in at least three generations. A prevalence of early-onset AD of 41.2 per 100,000 for the population at risk (i.e., persons aged 40-59 years) has been reported.[4] The disease has severe emotional and financial consequences for individuals, families, and society.

Unraveling Alzheimers Disease

Unraveling Alzheimers Disease

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