What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal, progressive and degenerative disease that destroys brain cells. It is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 64% of all dementias in Canada.
Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. Symptoms include having difficulty remembering things, making decisions and performing everyday activities. These changes can affect the way a person feels and acts. There is currently no way to stop the disease, but research is improving the way we provide care and will continue to search for a cure.
What causes Alzheimer’s disease?
We do not yet know what causes Alzheimer’s disease but researchers have identified risk factors associated with it.
- The most important risk factor is aging. A minimum age needs to be reached for Alzheimer’s disease to develop. People do not get the disease in their teenage years or even in their 20s. It is well-established that aging can impair the body’s self-repair mechanisms. And of course, many of the risk factors increase with age, such as blood pressure, stress, and obesity.
- There is no doubt that genetics play a role in the disease. Yet only a small percentage of cases is associated with the specific genes that cause the inherited form of the disease. Risk genes increase the likelihood of developing a disease, but do not guarantee it will happen.
- Research is being done on other factors such as existing diseases or conditions that the person may have, infections, toxins in the environment, education level, alcohol and tobacco use, diet and exercise.
Are there treatments for Alzheimer’s disease?
Several medications are now available to treat some symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. These drugs are not a cure for the disease. They do not stop its progression.
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