Reaching old age, the ups and downs of one´s life and all the adventures experienced are frequently recalled as memories. Unfortunately, it isn´t the case for many elderly people, as they suffer from Alzheimer.
This degenerative neurological disease was described first by the German Psychiatrist and Pathologist, Alois Alzheimer in 1906. It is currently responsible for 60% of dementia cases in older age. Among the risk factors related to developing this disease are the aforementioned old age, cases of dementia among close relatives, mutations of the Apolipoprotein-E gene as well as severe head injuries in the individual’s medical history.
There are two forms of this progressive disease, the Pre-Senile type, with familiar background, appears before the 45 years of age, while the more frequent type, called Sporadic Form, is observed from the age of 65 years. Both types of this disease cause pathological alterations (Amyloid Plaques, Fiber anomalies) of the neuronal tissue in different parts of the brain which leads to atrophies and as a result clinical signs.
The symptoms start with loss of the short-term memory, in the advanced phase the complete loss of memory and the capacity to recognize people, followed by increasing deficits of intellectual abilities such as speech, abstract thinking and planning as well as fine motor skills and total loss of the capacity to move. In its final stage, Alzheimer seems to convert physically active and cognitively fit people into bedridden patients completely disconnected from the world around them. Those patients need to be taken care of at all times by family members or a care person, as they can´t realize any of the daily tasks. Although Alzheimer is commonly related to loss of memory, the complete clinical picture is much more severe than just a simple dementia.
The diagnostic process is composed of blood analysis, image related procedures as well as Neuropsychiatric tests and conversations with family members who witness the changes in the patient’s state of mind and physical deficits from a close distance. It is important to diagnose Alzheimer quickly, which isn’t an easy task, as a number of other forms of dementia and neuronal diseases with similar symptoms need to be excluded.
There is no cure to Alzheimer. The medication treatment focuses on calming the symptoms and trying to maintain cognitive and physical functions as long as possible.
Measures to avoid an early outbreak of Alzheimer on the one hand and delaying its progress on the other hand include a sufficient level of physical activity, mental exercise such as reading, social interaction and even practicing and learning foreign languages up to older age.
At my surgery, as well as offering the classical diagnosis procedures and the introduction to Neurologist, we also offer some additional services such as Genetic Testing in collaboration with our special Laboratory in Málaga. These tests reveal mutations that can lead to the non-hereditary and more common type of Alzheimer disease. Due to the severe impact of this disease in one’s life and the family situation, prior knowledge of a higher risk of developing Alzheimer in the future, can be of very important value as far as personal and family planning is concerned.
“Book an appointment with Dr Ali, and if a genetic test is deemed necessary, receive a 10% discount off the first Genetic Test when you mention TRE”