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Alzheimers - The Sad Disease

Apr 2, 2008
In only a very short space of time, Alzheimer's disease has become a major player in diseases affecting the elderly; currently the most prevalent type of age related dementia affecting the elderly today. Alzheimer's is estimated to affect 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 causing problems with the memory centers of the mind, causing people to forget short and longterm memories.

The problem in the past has been the accuracy of diagnosis which has gradually improved and is now up to 94 percent accurate. Alois Alzheimer a German physician first discovered the disease back in 1906 but it has only really been in the world's focus for just over 30 years; even though it has been scientifically studied for many years, knowledge surrounding this disease is minimal.

Studies show that your greatest risk of acquiring Alzheimer's is advancing age. The problem of early diagnosis is often down to the sufferer, who refuses to admit that anything is wrong even when they start to experience some of the symptoms; this can be difficult for friends and relations who do not know what the problem is, or what actions or care they should take.

Alzheimer's disease is currently treated exactly the same as other forms of dementia. Despite the studies, there is no permanent treatment for the condition but there are a number of drugs which can help with the condition. The three main medications currently approved for treatments of Alzheimer's disease are: Donepezil, Tacrine, and Rivastigmine; all of these have been shown to improve the cognition by about half a year.

Memantine is a new drug that slows deterioration during the later stages and is a derivative of the decades old anti-influenza drug Amantadine; this drug slows down the mental deterioration so those already prescribed Donepezil with severe symptoms are now prescribed Memantine instead. The side effects of using Memantine are low, and it's the first drug shown to have an effect on the symptoms of moderate to severe cases; more than 80 percent of the Memantine excreted is unchanged by the kidneys.

Because people are living longer Alzheimer's disease has become a serious health problem that governments must face; in the United States it is fourth in the list of fatal diseases. There is also an economic aspect of caring for patients to consider, something that will affect governments everywhere; with a current figure for medical treatment and care at 40 billion dollars a year.

This is destined to create financial problems everywhere, and the cost of care and treatment is only expected to rise in the future. According to the National Institute on Aging, nearly half of its annual budget is spent on research into this awful condition; there are currently hundreds of substances being tested for treatments around the world.

One of the few factors that you can change to alter your risk of developing dementia is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Some researchers into the disease have found that patients who are happy and healthy with Alzheimer's, slow down the rate of their mental decline. Fortunately this disease is still mainly affecting people over the age of 60; incidents of younger victims contracting the condition do occur, although these are rare.
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