Alzheimer disease

Alzheimer disease affects the brain, causing memory problems and eventually severe problems with mental function. It gets worse over time, and people with Alzheimer disease have gradual memory loss, as well as loss of judgment, trouble concentrating, loss of language skills, personality changes, and a decline in the ability to learn new tasks. In advanced stages, people with Alzheimer disease may lose all memory and mental abilities.

Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia. About 5 million Americans have Alzheimer disease, and this number is expected to grow as the population gets older. The disease progress is different for each person. If Alzheimer disease comes on quickly, it usually gets worse quickly. If it has been slow to get worse, it will often continue slowly.

Alzheimer disease symptoms happen because the disease kills brain cells. In a healthy brain, billions of neurons create chemical and electrical signals that are relayed from cell to cell. They help a person think, remember, and feel. Neurotransmitters, brain chemicals, help these signals move from cell to cell. In people with Alzheimer disease, neurons in some places start to die, and the brain makes lower levels of neurotransmitters. That causes the brain to have problems with its signals.

There is no cure for Alzheimer disease, but medicines can help slow the progression of the disease in some people. Herbs and supplements, and lifestyle adjustments, may also help reduce the risk or improve quality of life.

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Review Date: 4/23/2015  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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