Alzheimer's Disease Is The Only Disease With No Treatment
Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in America and the 5th leading cause of death among people 65 years or older.
It's also the only disease in the top ten leading causes of death in America without a cure, a plan for prevention, or a way to slow down it's progression.
There Are Two Forms Of Alzheimer's Disease
The most common form of Alzheimer's Disease is Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease and it effects those 65 years and older, currently 5.2 million people in America are living with this disease.
The second from is called Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease and it effects people between the ages of 30-60, currently 200,000 people live with Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease in America.
Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease Can Be Genetic
The genetic form of Early On Set Alzheimer's is called Familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD). It is caused by any one of a number of different single-gene mutations on chromosomes 21, 14, and 1. Each of these mutations causes abnormal proteins to be formed. Mutations on chromosome 21 cause the formation of abnormal amyloid precursor protein (APP). A mutation on chromosome 14 causes abnormal presenilin 1 to be made, and a mutation on chromosome 1 leads to abnormal presenilin 2.
Scientists know that each of these mutations plays a role in the breakdown of APP, a protein whose precise function is not yet known. This breakdown is part of a process that generates harmful forms of amyloid plaques, a hallmark of the disease. A child whose mother or father carries a genetic mutation for FAD has a 50/50 chance of inheriting that mutation. If the mutation is in fact inherited, the child almost surely will develop FAD.
Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease Has A Different Set Of Genes Than Early On Set Alzheimer's
Most cases of Alzheimer's are the late-onset form, which develops after age 60. The causes of late-onset Alzheimer's are not yet completely understood, but they likely include a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that influence a person's risk for developing the disease.
The single-gene mutations directly responsible for early-onset Alzheimer's disease do not seem to be involved in late-onset Alzheimer's. Researchers have not found a specific gene that causes the late-onset form of the disease. However, one genetic risk factor does appear to increase a person's risk of developing the disease. This increased risk is related to the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene found on chromosome 19. APOE.
You Can Be Tested For Alzhiemer's Even Without Showing Symptoms But It's Not Easy
If you do have a family history of early onset Alzheimer's disease, genetic testing may still not be able to detect the mutation that's causing your family's disease.
Clinical genetic testing is currently only available for one of the three known genes – PS1. Testing for the other two genes is available on a research basis only.
The three genes for which genetic testing is available only account for about half of the families with Alzheimer's – or about five percent of all cases. Therefore, there must be other genes that have not yet been identified.
15 Million People Provide Unpaid Care For Patients With Alzheimer's Disease
More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care valued at $210 billion for persons with Alzheimer's and other dementias.
In 2012, the direct costs of caring for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias to American society will total an estimated $200 billion, including $140 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid.
Average per person Medicare payments for an older person with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are nearly 3 times higher than for an older person without these conditions. Medicaid payments are 19 times higher. These costs will only continue to soar in the coming years given the projected rapidly escalating prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease as the baby boomers age.
Unless something is done, the care costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias will soar from $200 billion this year to a projected $1.1 trillion (in today’s dollars) by 2050. This dramatic rise includes a 500 percent increase in combined Medicare and Medicaid spending.
You Can Look For Early Symptoms Of Alzheimer's Disease
1. You forget what you had for breakfast. Memory loss is the hallmark sign of Alzheimer’s, but there are definite degrees: Forgetting to DVR your favorite show can happen to anyone. But not recalling recently learned information, like the name of someone you just met, could be cause for concern—Alzheimer’s first attacks the part of the brain that stores short-term memory.
2. You lose track of numbers. Doubling the ingredients of your favorite recipe used to take all of three seconds, but now it seems to take forever. As Alzheimer’s develops, more and more plaques and tangles—two abnormal structures that damage and kill nerve cells—form in the brain area involved in thinking and planning. The effects: You get confused more easily, have trouble dealing with numbers, and can't organize your thoughts as well.
3. You get flustered by routine activities. Maybe you get a little lost en route to your favorite store, or you can’t remember how to update your Facebook status.
4. You hit the brakes hard at most traffic lights. Alzheimer’s may disrupt your brain’s ability to judge spatial relationships, skew your understanding of what you see, and even mess with your sense of time and place.
5. You find your lost keys in the refrigerator. Or whatever other weird spot you can’t remember putting them in. Occasionally misplacing things is normal; what may not be, however, is if you do it more and more frequently.
6. You call an apple an orange. Struggling with words when you didn’t before indicates Alzheimer’s, as does having trouble expressing your thoughts and following or taking part in a conversation.
7. You try to cross an intersection without waiting for the light. Or you answer a telemarketer’s call and your donation is a little too handsome. Poor judgment and ineffective decision-making are all signs your brain function is compromised.
8. You become less social. Game night with friends suddenly isn’t so fun anymore. You may also become easily upset, somewhat depressed, and anxious or fearful for no specific reason. Alzheimer’s affects how you interact with people and can cause changes in your mood and personality.
9. You have diabetes. That doubles your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Insulin resistance and high blood sugar may damage brain cells and the blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to your brain, raising your risk of Alzheimer’s. Other conditions that may have the same effect include high blood pressure, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
You Can Try To Prevent Alzheimer's Disease By Remaining Active
The health of your brain, like the health of your body, depends on many factors.
While some factors, such as your genes, are out of your control, many powerful lifestyle factors are within your sphere of influence.
The six pillars of a brain-healthy lifestyle are:
An active social life
The more you strengthen each of the six pillars in your daily life, the healthier and hardier your brain will be.
When you lead a brain-healthy lifestyle, your brain will stay working stronger…longer.
The Eyes Have It
It Doesn't Pay To Be Stubborn
Nearly 2 in 10 Americans believe they know someone with Alzheimer’s disease who has not sought diagnosis/treatment.
Many people say they do not "want to know" if they have it or not, Alzheimer's disease is very scary to most people because so little is known about it and how to stop it.
On average, patients with Alzheimer’s disease live for 8 to 10 years after diagnosis, but this fatal disease can last as long as 20 years, or as little as 3 to 4 years if the patient is over 80 years old when diagnosed.
The "unknown" factor will sometimes prevent people from seeing a doctor, but the early it is discovered the more you can try to do to prepare.