Symptoms and Risk Factors and Alzheimer’s Disease Amyloidosis is a relatively uncommon set of diseases caused by a gradual gathering of amyloid in a person’s organs, usually the nervous system, heart, liver and kidneys. Amyloid is an irregular protein structure that is produced within a person’s bone marrow. Alzheimer’s disease is the single most common type of amyloidosis and is a progressive disease that alters one’s memory, as well as other significant functions of the brain. The hippocampus, which is integral in the formation of new memories is affected in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Research has found that the volume of the hippocampus is decreased by over twenty percent in the cases of Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer’s is also the main cause of dementia, a series of impairments that culminate in the loss of cognitive abilities. In frontotemporal dementia, a patient’s eating habits are often disrupted, due to the a deterioration in the hypothalamus. According to an article published in the Lancet on 30 April 2011, entitled “The three stages of Alzheimer’s disease”, at the turn of this century, there were 24 million people living with dementia across the globe, the majority of whom are believed to have Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to increase to over 80 million in approximately the next 20 years. Symptoms of the 1st Stage of Alzheimer’s Disease Forgetting the names of familiar people, objects and places. -using the wrong word or name, and not being aware that they have done so. -placing items in unusual locations. -Repetition (repeatedly asking the same question) – Confusion, increased anxiety, loss of self-confidence and fearfulness -poor judgement skills and difficulty making decisions – Aimless wandering and confusion even in familiar places – Low mood and personality changes -Taking considerably longer to perform routine everyday tasks – Forgetting or confusing dates and times The Second Stage of Alzheimer’s Disease •Aphasia: difficulties in speaking and also in understanding language. •-agraphia: difficulties with writing, spelling and grammar. •Sleep disturbances -In the first stage of the disease, people with Alzheimer’s may sleep excessively and often awake confused. In the later stages of the disease, people with Alzheimer’s sleep much less and at irregular intervals •Hallucinations •visuospatial difficulties such as finding it difficult to negotiate steps and in maneuvering objects. •Declining ability to focus on a series of tasks or events The Later Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease •In the third stage of the disease, the symptoms experienced by the patient increase in severity and hence, become increasingly distressing for the person to cope with on a daily basis. •Delusions and hallucinations •increasing agitation and disorientation •dysphagia, •substantial unintended weight loss, •urinary incontinence •drastic decline in both short and long term memory. •Sadness, apathy and frustration •Alzheimer’s patients at this stage also become very feeble, and often struggle to stand up, walk and dress themselves. •According to the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK, people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease live approximately 8-10 years after the early stages of the disease present itself. The Risk Factors of Alzheimer’s Disease •Age is the principle risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s Disease. •a person’s chance of developing dementia increases twofold every ten years after the age of 60. •Over 30% of patients are over the age of 85. •Early onset Alzheimer’s can also occur in a person’s 40s and 50s. •Interestingly, research findings published by the Feinberg School of Medicine in Northwestern University, Chicago, found an accumulation of protein amyloid deposits in the brains of some deceased young adults, of 20 years old. Such a finding is highly indicative of the early, or preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. •Diabetes- research suggests that Type 2 diabetes patients are at two times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s, compared with those without diabetes. •Hypercholesterolemia and hypertension – damage to the blood vasculature in particular can cause vascular dementia. •research has shown that tangles and plaques are more likely to trigger the development of Alzheimer’s, if damage to the brain’s blood vasculature has also occurred. •Obesity and lack of exercise. •Smoking- Smokers have a 40% greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, when compared with non-smokers and ex-smokers. A study carried out by Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago found that a daily serving of green leafy vegetables prevents cognitive decline with age and facilitates memory preservation. Vegetables such as kale and spinach are particularly beneficial to brain function due to their high Vitamin K content. Another study carried out by the University of Manchester, UK, found that eating purple coloured fruits such as blueberries, may decrease the chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. This is thought to be due to the fact that contains chelators which bind detrimental iron compounds within the body •A correlation has also been established between depression and dementia, although the research currently is quite conflicting about whether depression is a risk factor for dementia, or rather a symptom of the early stages of this progressive disease. Patients, especially during the first and second stages of Alzheimer’s disease may feel isolated and anxious. They often withdraw socially, find it difficult to maintain focus and their thought process and rationalization skills may be altered.•People who have sustained either a severe head injury, or repeated head injuries are also at greater risk of developing dementia later on in life, particularly if the trauma occurs on more than one occasion, or if loss of consciousness occurs. •Medical investigations suggest this may be due to the deposits, which accumulate in the brain as a result of a head injury, perhaps playing a role in causing dementia.