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Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease
Synonyms Alzheimer disease
Alzheimer's disease brain comparison.jpg
Comparison of a normal aged brain (left) and the brain of a person with Alzheimer's (right). Characteristics that separate the two are pointed out.
Classification and external resources
Specialty Neurology
ICD-10 G30, F00
ICD-9-CM 331.0, 290.1
OMIM 104300
DiseasesDB 490
MedlinePlus 000760
eMedicine neuro/13
Patient UK Alzheimer's disease
MeSH D000544
GeneReviews
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Alzheimer's disease (AD), also known as just Alzheimer's, is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gets worse over time. It is the cause of 60% to 70% of cases of dementia. The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events (short-term memory loss). As the disease advances, symptoms can include problems with language, disorientation (including easily getting lost), mood swings, loss of motivation, not managing self care, and behavioural issues. As a person's condition declines, they often withdraw from family and society. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death. Although the speed of progression can vary, the average life expectancy following diagnosis is three to nine years.

The cause of Alzheimer's disease is poorly understood. About 70% of the risk is believed to be genetic with many genes usually involved. Other risk factors include a history of head injuries, depression, or hypertension. The disease process is associated with plaques and tangles in the brain. A probable diagnosis is based on the history of the illness and cognitive testing with medical imaging and blood tests to rule out other possible causes. Initial symptoms are often mistaken for normal ageing. Examination of brain tissue is needed for a definite diagnosis.Mental and physical exercise, and avoiding obesity may decrease the risk of AD. There are no medications or supplements that decrease risk.


Rates after age 65
Age New affected
per thousand
person–years
65–69  3
70–74  6
75–79  9
80–84 23
85–89 40
90–     69

Effects of ageing on memory but not AD
Early stage Alzheimer's
Middle stage Alzheimer's
Late stage Alzheimer's
  • Not remembering episodes of forgetfulness
  • Forgets names of family or friends
  • Changes may only be noticed by close friends or relatives
  • Some confusion in situations outside the familiar
  • Greater difficulty remembering recently learned information
  • Deepening confusion in many circumstances
  • Problems with sleep
  • Trouble knowing where they are
  • Poor ability to think
  • Problems speaking
  • Repeats same conversations
  • More abusive, anxious, or paranoid
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Wikipedia

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