Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a disease that causes a significant loss of cognitive function, effecting memory, judgment, attention, mood, and abstract thinking. It is a progressive, degenerative disease, which mean it continues to worsen, and patients experience a steady decline in function.
Early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease may include:
- Loss of concentration
- Language problems
- Confusion about time and place
- Impaired judgment
- Loss of insight
- Mood and behavior changes
- Apathy and depression
Though no known cause exists, several risk factors increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, including:
- Age: Increasing age is the greatest known risk factor. The likelihood of developing the disease doubles every five years after age 65.
- Family history: Alzheimer's tends to run in families. If more than one family member has had Alzheimer's, your risk increases.
- Genetics: Scientists know certain genes increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's or cause it.
Aside from these, you can take the following steps to lessen your chances for developing Alzheimer's:
- Protect yourself from injury: Researchers have linked serious head injury and the future risk of developing Alzheimer's.
- Keep your heart in good condition: Brain health is strongly linked to heart health. Alzheimer's risk can be increased by conditions that damage heart or blood vessels, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
- Age healthfully: Maintain a healthy weight, avoid tobacco and excess alcohol, stay socially connected, and exercise your body and mind.
Drug therapy aims to slow down the progress of Alzheimer's disease and treat cognitive and behavioral symptoms—any such treatment will be discussed throughohly with patients and their families. MedStar Health provides state-of-the-art clinical services for individuals affected by Alzheimer's disease and related disorders, and our doctors conduct research aimed at improving treatment options for Alzheimer's disease.