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Alzheimers Disease Not Just Loss of Memory Introduction Alzheimers disease a neurodegenerative brain disease is the most common cause of dementia It currently afflicts about 4 million Americans and is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States Furthermore Alzheimers disease is the leading cause of mental impairment in elderly people and accounts for a large percentage of admissions to assisted living homes nursing homes and other long-term care facilities Psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations have been reported in a large proportion of patients with this disease In fact it is the presence of these psychotic symptoms can lead to early institutionalization Bassiony et all 2000 Learning about Alzheimers disease and realizing that it is much more that just a loss of memory can benefit the families of those with the disorder as well as society as a whole The purpose of this paper is to look at the disorder as well as to discuss the history symptoms diagnosis and hopes of a cure for Alzheimers disease History Around the turn of the century two kinds of dementia were defined by Emil Kraepin senile and presenile The presenile form was described more in detail by Alois Alzheimer as a progressive deterioration of intellect memory and orientation As a neuropathologist Alzheimer studied the case a 51 year-old woman When she died Alzheimer performed an autopsy and found that she had cerebral atrophy deterioration of the brain senile plaques protein deposits and neurofibrillary tangles abnormal filaments in nerve cells in her brain -- three common pathological features of those who have Alzheimers Disease Ramanathan 1997 Today as research on Alzheimers disease progresses scientists are describing other abnormal anatomical and chemical changes associated with the disease These include nerve cell degeneration in the brains nucleus and reduced levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brains of Alzheimers disease victims Alzheimers Disease However from a practical standpoint conducting an autopsy of an individual
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