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Alzheimer's disease

Related Terms

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Background

  • Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an irreversible, progressive disorder in which neurons (brain cells) deteriorate resulting in the loss of cognitive (thought) functions, primarily memory, judgment, reasoning, movement coordination, and pattern recognition. In advanced stages of the disease, all memory and mental functioning may be lost.
  • Alzheimer's disease may cause death; it is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. However, an individual with AD often dies from an additional illness like pneumonia.
  • According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a group of disorders that impairs mental functioning. Dementia means loss of the ability to think. Alzheimer's is progressive and irreversible. Abnormal changes in the brain worsen over time, eventually interfering with many aspects of brain function. Memory loss is one of the earliest symptoms, along with a gradual decline of other intellectual and thinking abilities, called cognitive functions, and changes in personality or behavior. Other forms of dementia include vascular dementia (due to a lack of blood flow to the brain), mixed dementia (presence of both Alzheimer's and vascular dementia), and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (rapidly declining memory and cognition due to consumption of cattle with "mad-cow" disease).
  • Alzheimer's advances in stages, progressing from mild forgetfulness and cognitive impairment to widespread loss of mental abilities. In advanced Alzheimer's, people become dependent on others for every aspect of their care. The time course of the disease varies by individual, ranging from five to 20 years. The most common cause of death is infection.
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Risk Factors

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Causes

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Signs and Symptoms

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Diagnosis

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Complications

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Treatment

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.