Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia account for about two-thirds of all diseases from dementia , a condition characterized by damage and impairment of function and brain power . These disorders affect memory and other cognitive functions (language, daily activities) and are usually caused by damage to the brain tissue.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
The disease is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly population. It is a neurodegenerative disorder that occurs mainly after the age of 65. It is characterized by a progressive degenerative process that causes the death of nerve cells in certain areas of the brain, causing a deterioration of cognitive functions (memory, reasoning, language).
What are the causes of Alzheimer’s disease?
The underlying cause of Alzheimer’s seems to be tied to the alteration of the metabolism of a protein, the precursor of the amyloid beta (called APP) and its interaction with the protein TAU: this process leads to the formation of a neurotoxic substance, which accumulates in the brain and it leads to progressive neuronal death.
What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?
The symptoms of the disease are:
- Difficulty to perform daily activities and loss of autonomy.
- Disorientation within space and time.
- Disorders of language.
- Loss of memory.
What is vascular dementia?
Even vascular dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, is characterized by a reduction of cognitive abilities. However, this condition is associated with a reduced flow of blood to the brain, which means not enough oxygen and nutrients reach the brain.
Are there other forms of dementia that can be confused with Alzheimer’s?
Other dementias confused with Alzheimer’s are idrocefaliche which is estimated to constitute 10% of the total population. Although the symptoms are similar: impaired memory, language, and idrocefalite (pathological accumulation of spinal fluid in the cerebral ventricles). The main difference is that compared to Alzheimer’s dementia idrocefaliche are curable through ventricular-peritoneal shunt surgery.
What are the causes of vascular dementia?
At the base of the vascular dementias there are problems in the circulation of the blood in the blood vessels in the brain. Repeated small infarcts leading to progressive destruction of brain tissue. The main risk factor is aging, but all the conditions that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease may contribute to the onset of the problem.
What are the symptoms of vascular dementia?
The symptoms are closely related to vascular injury to the base of dementia. The symptoms most commonly encountered are:
- Viewing difficulties
- Balance disorders
- Mood disorders
- Problems in speaking (aphasia)
Can you cure Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia?
The disease of Alzheimer’s is chronic and progressive. To date there is still no treatment to prevent or cure the disease. The drugs currently available – acetylcholinesterase inhibitors – are still able to improve the symptoms and slow down temporarily progression. There are no specific drugs even for the treatment of vascular dementia, but it seems that medicines used in the case of Alzheimer adversely benefit some patients suffering from this condition. It is important to keep under control the risk factors, in order to avoid worsening of symptoms. The brain areas damaged by heart attacks, in fact, cannot be restored, but preventive measures can delay the progression of vascular dementia.
Written by Editorial Humanitas News
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