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What is Alzheimer's Disease?
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What is Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a degenerative disease of the brain, which is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is a serious brain disorder which seriously affects a person's ability to have a normal life and their ability to carry out their activities each day.

Alzheimer's disease normally starts after after age 65, but the symptoms normally start slowly and can often be disregarded as a normal part of ageing (slowed thinking, confusion and forgetting things) before this age.

Alzheimer's disease is characterised by the increased amounts of abnormal clumps (amyloid plaques) and tangled fibres of proteins (neurofibrillary tangles) - basically abnormal deposits of substances in and around the neurons. Some of these changes normally occur with ageing, but not anywhere near the level that they do in a person with Alzheimer's disease.

Scientists believe that the communication between the neurons (nerve cells) becomes disconnected, especially in the parts of the brain which rule memory and learning. Some of the nerve cells die. In addition to this, levels of some of the neurotransmitters in the brain appear to be low, which may also play a role in this disease.

It is known that Alzheimer's affects brain cells by progressively making them fail to work properly, but scientists do not yet know what causes the brain cells to fail in such a way.


Some facts about Alzheimer's disease


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  Last reviewed: 7 October 2007 || Last updated: 12 March 2009


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Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. For any treatment or diagnosis of illness, please see your doctor.


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