What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is a serious decline in mental abilities like thinking, remembering, and reasoning.
The name comes from Dr. Alois Alzheimer who discovered in 1906 abnormal clumps and tangled fibers in the brain tissue of a woman who died of mental illness. The woman exhibited memory loss, language problems, and atypical behavior before her death. This discovery became the foundation for later research on this condition.
Later studies showed that the nerve cells or neurons, which transmit messages across the brain and from the brain to the rest of the body, lose their connections. Further, the initial damage seems to be concentrated in the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex, which are the parts of the brain that control memories.
Alzheimer’s Disease Causes and Risk Factors
Despite research conducted since 1906, experts have still not discovered the exact cause of Alzheimer’s Disease. They, however, believe that it develops from multiple causes. They have also discovered certain factors that increase the risk of developing the condition including:
Alzheimer’s disease commonly affects people over the age of 65. The Philippines’ National Mental Health Program does not have official data on the exact number of Filipinos with this disease. However, according to 2016 regional statistics, Alzheimer’s disease was the cause of 411 deaths.
Family history and genetics
Scientists have discovered that Alzheimer’s genes are present in both risk genes (a genetic predisposition to have a higher risk of acquiring a disease) and deterministic genes (genes that cause disease). So, having a family member with Alzheimer’s Disease increases your risk of getting the condition.
Research has shown a strong relationship between a diseased heart and a diseased brain. Since the brain has a large network of blood vessels, it needs a strong heart to keep pumping blood to its neurons. Depression is also considered both as one of Alzheimer’s disease causes and symptoms.