Basic facts about Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimers is the most common form of dementia and accounts for at least half of all dementias. It causes about 23,000 deaths a year in the United States, making it the eighth leading cause of death in the elderly population. Alzheimer's disease is named after Alois Alzheimer, the German physician who identified it in 1907. The cause of Alzheimer's remains elusive and resistant many treatments.
People with Alzheimer's disease have an atrophy of the cortical tissue within the brain. When examined at autopsy the brain shows abnormal fibers that appear to be tangles of brain tissue filaments (neurofibrillary tangles) and senile plaques (patches of degenerative nerve endings). This damage is believed to cause disruption to transmission of impulses amongst brain cells. It is this damage that is thought to produce the symptoms of the disease.
People over the age of 65 are most frequently affected by Alzheimer's and it is termed late onset. So-called early onset, a very rare form of Alzheimer's disease can develop in people as young as 40 years and in middle age.
Hope for the Future
Government funded research into Alzheimer's occurs almost everywhere throughout the world. Drug companies, academic institutions and medical facilities are working to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. As people are living longer many more are suffering from the disease. It is in everyone's interest that a cure is found as soon as possible.
Updated December 2005