An Overview Of Alzheimers Disease English Informative Essay Research Paper

1443 words - 6 pages

An Overview of Alzheimer’s Disease
Hannah Heady
Murray State University
An Overview of Alzheimer’s Disease
As the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a slow progressing, degenerative disorder of the brain that eventually results in abnormal brain function and death (Liang et al, 2016, p.2). According to the website, there are over 5 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s (Alzheimer Association, 2018). Considering when the majority of diagnoses are made, approximately one-in-six people over the age of 65 are living with AD. Although the risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases directly with age, the disease is not a normal part of the aging process. Memory loss, difficulty focusing, and confusion are some of the numerous symptoms of AD. Diagnosis of AD is no easy task and cannot be definitively confirmed without an autopsy after the death of a patient.
It has been over 100 years since the discovery of Alzheimer’s disease. The disease was first described in 1907 by a German physician, Dr. Alois Alzheimer. Dr. Alzheimer noticed the changes in 56-year-old women and studied her to determine the causes for the personality and mental deteriorations. Her most noticeable symptoms were confusion and memory loss. After her death he performed a neurological autopsy on the brain. Using a new staining technique, the doctor noticed an abnormal disorganization of the nerve cells in the patient’s cerebral cortex (Khachaturian and Radebaugh, 1997, p24). The cerebral cortex is part of the brain responsible for information processing and memory (Li et al, 2018, p. 2). He described the abnormality as bunched up like a rope tied in knots; naming the strange nerve bundles neurofibrillary tangles. He also noted an unexpected accumulation of cellular debris around the affected nerves, which he termed senile plaques. Once he made the connections, he concluded that the nerve bundles and plaque were the causes of her debilitating disease. His work was published in a medical journal and thus named the form of dementia after himself, Alzheimer disease. Following his discovery, over 100 years later, there still is not a diagnostic test for the disease.
Often, Alzheimer’s is confused with normal aging, thus going undiagnosed. There are many signs of AD; some of the early signs include
· Memory loss,
· Challenges in problem solving,
· Difficulty completing simple tasks,
· Confusion, and
· Withdrawing/changes in personality, among several others (Khachaturian and Radebaugh, 1997, p.57).
Most of the physiological signs of Alzheimer’s are fairly relative. Each person presents the disease differently and therefore all diagnoses are ambiguous. Other than an autopsy, after death, there is no test for determining if one has developed AD. While a person is living, the only way to determine if they are living with AD is throug...


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