How Alzheimer is treated?

Amongst all types of dementia, Alzheimer’s is one of the most prevalent types. It is mostly found in the elderly above 65 years of age.
The typical pattern of Alzheimer’s is that it starts with a slow but significant memory loss and advances gradually to the extent that it affects the patient’s reasoning and judgmental abilities as well as understanding and learning capabilities. The state where the disease takes the patient requires treatment and it may continue till the last days.

Complications like delirium, delusions and other signs of dementia are not rare in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s. Physiologically, chances to develop Alzheimer’s increase for those who are diabetics and those who have had a stroke or cardiac arrest though it is not impossible for those who have not had any of these pre-conditions. People who are mentally lazy are also prone to get Alzheimer’s.

Biologically, the loss of neurons with an increased inability or a decreased ability for due replenishment, is selected as a genetic marker for Alzheimer’s.  This is the most import reason which causes Alzheimer’s.

While there are typical signs of amyloid plaque development and presence of neurofibrillary tangles in a patient with Alzheimer’s, there is a strong bone of contention as to the root of the disease in the human body. There are currently two distinct opinions on the subject:

First, one group claims the abnormal presence of tau protein as the root of imbalance. Second school of thought counters it by proclaiming the presence of amyloid deposits as the origin of the disease.

Current research findings however show a definite inclination towards the amyloid deposit theory. The incompetence of transporting beta amyloids out of the brain causes the formation of plaques, which ultimately results in Alzheimer’s. Further investigation in the subject is ongoing.
While there has not emerged a cure for the disease, treatment options are continuously being worked out. Slowing down of the progression of the disease is the prime focus of the treatment.
The following substances seem to make a marked difference in the regulation of the disease as well as increase the comfort level in patients:

  • Antioxidants - The quantum of free radicals present in the body has a direct connection to the risk of Alzheimer’s. A guaranteed intake of a minimum quantity or excess of 400 IU of vitamin E and 500 IU of vitamin C assures efficacy in prevention. What is important to note here is that these vitamins, by itself, or taken alone yield no result. They are a must in combination.
  • Sleep medication - Insomnia is understandably a common problem of patients with Alzheimer’s. An after effect of the treatment for anger, anxiety and stress, the resultant sleeplessness aggravates the overall situation. Psychiatrists are of the opinion that patients with nocturnal depression or anxiety get a marked relief with adequate sleep medication.
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors - Deficiency of acetylcholine, responsible for transmitting signals to the brain, is a major cause for Alzheimer’s. The results are impaired memory and attentively.  The drug cholinesterase inhibitors stop acetyl cholinesterase from breaking down further whatever small quantity of acetylcholine is produced in the brain, thereby improving the malfunctioning of the organ in these areas.
  • Memantine - Receptors cells in the brain, called NMDA are acted upon by glutamate, a chemical produced in the brain. When these receptors cells are excessively stimulated, the overall health of the brain is affected. Memantine is a substance which blocks the receptors from receiving glutamate. It has proved to be efficient in patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s.
  • Antipsychotics - It is not uncommon for patients with the disease go through episodes of mania, anger, fear, paranoia, delusions, hallucinations etc. A group of drugs under antipsychotics can help alleviate these episodes. Not without side-effects, of course.
  • Antidepressants - Prescribed for patients experiencing severe bouts of depression and hopelessness. Some side-effects have been observed.

The crux of the mater still hinges on the old proverb, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. An active lifestyle with tendency to be mentally alert and active plays an important role in the prevention of the disease. A game of chess, solving daily crossword or dancing are mental and physical exercises that have shown good results for the brain and the body. Quitting the puffing habit, leading a balanced, stress less life and preventing heart ailments are proven ways to keep Alzheimer’s at bay.

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