An estimated four million Americans have Alzheimer’s dementia, a number that is likely to grow as the country’s population ages. Alzheimer’s is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050. Typically beginning with memory loss and behavioral changes, Alzheimer’s is an incurable progressive disease of the nervous system. Current therapies for Alzheimer’s provide limited relief of its various symptoms.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia, which actually gets worse as it progresses, eventually leading to death. There is no exact treatment for the disease yet. The disease was first explained by German neuro-pathologist and psychiatrist, Alois Alzheimer, in the year 1906 and the disease was named after him. Oftentimes the disease is identified in people over the age of 65. It is uncommon for AD to be detected in younger people.
The disease progresses in different ways for every person, and it causes many different symptoms. Most of the time, early symptoms are mistaken for having something to do with age or evidence of stress. In its early stages, the most common symptom is having a hard time recalling recent events. At the time that Alzheimer’s disease is assumed, the analysis is mostly confirmed with trials that examine thinking abilities and behavior and often following a brain scan in case it is available.
As AD develops, symptoms can already include irritability, aggression, confusion, mood swings, long term memory loss, and trouble with language. Eventually, patients often draw back from family and community and when bodily functions reach their weakest, this inevitably leads to their death. The disease is dissimilar for each patient and foreseeing its effect on the patient is difficult. The disease usually builds up for an unidentified and varying time before making itself completely evident and it can advance unseen for the longest time.
Since the progression and cause of Alzheimer’s disease are not really clear, researchers are then challenged to even dig deeper in their studies to help patients cope with the symptoms. Research indicates that the disease is associated with tangles and plaques in the brain. Current treatment only helps with the signs of AD and there are also no existing treatments that reverse or prevent the advancement of the disease. At present, over 1000 clinical tests were conducted and continue to be conducted to solely find solutions in treating the disease or at least relieve symptoms. Among the suggested ways to delay cognitive symptoms are exercise, balanced diet, and mental stimulation. Sometimes, antidepressant medications improve appetites of patients since food refusal, is a natural problem among patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s dementia. Treatments diminishing agitation as well as antisocial behavior in Alzheimer’s patients are being welcomed.
There are two major drugs, tacrine (Cognex) and donepeziel (Aricept) which enhance mental functions in a number patients; however, these drugs also do not guarantee to prevent progression of AD. In one study having 11 AD patients being treated with oral THC (dronabinol, Marinol) within six weeks which was followed by another six weeks of taking a placebo, researchers found out that that the drug generated weight gain and lessened disturbed behavior with no threatening side effects.