Alzheimer's disease (AD), also called Alzheimer disease, senile dementia of the Alzheimer type, primary degenerative dementia of the Alzheimer's type, simply Alzheimer's (as a stand-alone attributiveadjective noun), and folk-etymological names such as "old-timers' disease", is the most common form of dementia. This incurable, degenerative, and terminal disease was first described by Germanpsychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906 and was named after him. Most often, it is diagnosed in people over 65 years of age, although the less-prevalent early-onset Alzheimer's can occurmuch earlier. In 2006, there were 26.6 million sufferers worldwide. Alzheimer's is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050.
Although the course of Alzheimer's disease is unique for everyindividual, there are many common symptoms. The earliest observable symptoms are often mistakenly thought to be 'age-related' concerns, or manifestations of stress. In the early stages, the mostcommon symptom is inability to acquire new memories, observed as difficulty in recalling recently observed events. When AD is suspected, the diagnosis is usually confirmed with behavioural assessments andcognitive tests, often followed by a brain scan if available.
As the disease advances, symptoms include confusion, irritability and aggression, mood swings, language breakdown, long-term memoryloss, and the general withdrawal of the sufferer as the senses decline. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death. Individual prognosis is difficult to assess, as the duration ofthe disease varies. AD develops for an indeterminate period of time before becoming fully apparent, and it can progress undiagnosed for years. The mean life expectancy following diagnosis isapproximately seven years. Fewer than three percent of individuals live more than fourteen years after diagnosis.
The cause and progression of Alzheimer's disease are not well understood. Research...
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