Definition Of Alzheimers Disease Health And Social Care Essay


Alzheimer ‘s Disease ( AD ) is an age-related, easy progressive, grim disease [ 1 ] . It is the commonest cause of dementedness, accounting for 50-60 % of instances [ 2 ] . Dementia is an umbrella term for conditions with an acquired loss of cognitive map ensuing from destructive pathological alterations in encephalon tissue, defined by different neuropathological and clinical manifestations that they encompass [ 3 ] . In Ireland, there are presently 41,700 people populating with a signifier of dementedness, which is expected to increase with increasing length of service [ 4 ] .

The symptoms of AD were chiefly described in 1907 by Alois Alzheimer, a German brain doctor, after whom the disease was named [ 5 ] . Patients with AD most normally present with episodic memory damage while working memory remains grossly integral, damage of linguistic communication, apraxia, agnosia, frontal executive map, parietal presentation, anosognosia, insidious oncoming and posterior cortical wasting. These symptoms vary depending on the phase of the degenerative disease procedure [ 2 ] . He besides described the neuropathological characteristics of the disease as neurofibrillary tangles ( NFTs ) and starchlike plaques throughout the intellectual cerebral mantle [ 5 ] .

This essay aims to reexamine current advancement relating to the designation of a pathogenesis of AD, lineation possible complications that may originate due to the disease, place the current diagnostic and intervention options available and to discourse possible steps to forestall or detain the oncoming.

Definition of Alzheimer ‘s Disease

First, it is necessary to specify AD. AD covers pre-senile dementedness, doddering dementedness, mild cognitive damage and pre-clinical AD, based on their common neuropathological and clinical manifestations [ 6 ] . AD was believed to chiefly happen in persons under the age of 65 old ages, referred to as familial or early oncoming dementedness, but is now known to show more normally as late-onset familial ( FAD ) and sporadic, late-onset AD [ 7 ] . Incidence additions exponentially with age, impacting 2 % of people aged between 65 and 75 old ages and increasing to 20 % of those over 80 old ages [ 8 ] .

The find of neuropathalogical characteristics present in a high proportion of non-demented older persons [ 9 ] has obscured the distinction between normal aging with AD-related pathology and AD [ 10 ] . Whether AD should be considered a status of aging or as a distinguishable disease entity besides stands [ 11 ] . A paper by the International Working Group for New Research Criteria for the Diagnosis of AD proposed new nomenclature for specifying AD, whereby it refers to the whole spectrum of the clinical stage of the disease and is non restricted to the dementedness syndrome [ 12 ] . With this definition, Alzheimer affects about 80 % of people at the age of 65 old ages with dementedness merely happening in a little per centum that increases to 25 % above 80 old ages [ 13 ] .


The cause of AD still remains unknown. However, the survey of familial instances of AD has provided insight into the molecular pathology of the disease and therefore that of the sporadic signifier every bit good [ 1 ] . The major microscopic pathologies of AD are the neuritic plaques and NFTs ensuing from unnatural accretion of proteinaceous stuff [ 14 ] . These characteristics lead to the loss of neurones from the cortical countries through the harm of synapses, doing decreased coevals of neurotransmitters. Consequently, electro-chemical signalling connected with idea and memory is impaired [ 3 ] .

Neuritic plaques are formed from the accretion of the amyloid-beta ( AB ) peptide, which is released into the extracellular infinite following proteolysis of the larger starchlike precursor protein ( APP ) by secretase enzymes [ 14 ] . Under normal fortunes, they are inclined to organize bunchs of filaments that are produced and catabolised at a balanced rate [ 7 ] . Altered production or intervention with the debasement and remotion of AB from the encephalon consequence in the ultimate accretion of AB [ 15 ] .

NFTs develop intracellularly, the chief constituent of which being the cytoskeletal protein tau [ 16 ] . Tau protein ‘s function is in bracing the micro-tubular conveyance system in nerve cells, leting axonal conveyance to happen. In the development of NFTs, they become hyper-phosphorylated and exhibit reduced adhering to microtubules [ 17 ] . They detach from the microtubules and signifier indissoluble coiling fibrils [ 7 ] .

Any change in the production, processing or clearance of AB and the hyper-phosphorylation of tau could finally take to the microscopic pathologies of AD. Many different mechanisms of pathogenesis are hypothesised, differing between familial and sporadic AD.

The AB hypothesis supports AB as the chief pathogenesis of familial AD and as an advocator in sporadic AD [ 13 ] . Familial AD includes at least three cistron defects, which have been identified as the APP cistron, presenilin 1 and 2. The latter cistrons affect the secretase enzyme map, ensuing in unnatural proteolysis of APP [ 2 ] .

Sporadic AD is linked to a defect in the apolipoprotein E cistron, ensuing in the formation of apoE4. This is considered a marker of increased susceptibleness instead than a familial determiner [ 7 ] . Apo E is the dominant lipoprotein expressed in the CNS. The apoE4 allelomorph has been hypothesised to increase the rate of deposition of AB and facilitate hyperphosphorylation of tau protein [ 18 ] .

While the AB hypothesis is studied in the greatest deepness, other possible mechanisms include the cholinergic hypothesis, the Ca hypothesis, the peroxidation of lipoids and the insulin opposition hypothesis [ 19 ] . Cholesterol has besides been suggested to hold a function in starchlike plaque formation, whereby encephalon cholesterin metamorphosis is altered [ 20 ] .

Complications of AD

Complications associated with AD are chiefly a direct consequence of the cognitive symptoms experienced. The symptoms of AD, viz. memory loss, impaired judgement and other cognitive alterations can perplex intervention required for other wellness conditions. Language shortages can ensue in the inability to verbalize hurting or symptoms experienced due to other unwellnesss and the inability to detect or depict medication side effects [ 21 ] .

As AD progresses, physiological encephalon changes commence to impact physical maps such as swallowing, mobility, balance and double continency. These effects can increase the susceptibleness to extra wellness jobs such as pneumonia, dysphagia, hurts from falls, malnutrition and weight loss [ 22 ] .

Aspiration pneumonia is reported as the taking cause of morbidity in persons with end-stage AD. The chief predisposing factors include dysphagia, a decreased degree of consciousness, reduced mobility, loss of the guttural physiological reaction, periodontic disease, nutritionary position and reduced immune response [ 23 ] .

Pseudobulbar dysphagia is believed to impact up to 45 % of dementedness patients, a reappraisal of surveies undertaken has shown. This is anticipated to ensue from age-related diminution in nervus map moreover to the neuropathy in AD [ 24 ] . Weight loss, desiccation and malnutrition consequence from this physical symptom [ 23 ] .

The hazard of falling additions in persons with AD, frequently ensuing in many unwanted jobs such as bruising, hurts, bone breaks and loss of independency [ 22 ] . Persons populating entirely are at an increased hazard of rolling off from place unattended, frequently ensuing in serious hurts or even decease [ 25 ] .

Weight loss is a really common, major issue for persons with AD. Eating and get downing are both impaired in AD [ 26 ] . The direction of dysphagia has non been shown to forestall weight loss, showing that it is multi-factorial in the disease [ 23 ] . It can besides ensue from a figure of other factors including increased demands due to high incidence of infection, decreased involvement in nutrient due to olfactive and gustatory sensation alterations, hapless memory or hapless concentration [ 8 ] . Indications for the usage of enteric eating in patients with advanced AD are undistinguished [ 27 ] . Weight loss plays a function in the hazard of falling due to increased breakability [ 28 ] .

A urinary catheter may be required in the presence of urinary incontinency. This increases the hazard of urinary piece of land infections, which, due to a suppressed immune system, may develop into more serious infections [ 29 ] .

As a consequence of the legion complications associated with AD, surveies have found health-care costs and use increased up to five times by persons with the disease [ 30 ] . Desirable results of hospitalizations have been estimated to be markedly lower for those with than for those without AD [ 31 ] .

Diagnostic Options Available in Managing Alzheimer ‘s Disease

Diagnostic probes in AD have two distinguishable functions. It is of import to be able to extinguish other possible causes of dementedness which have the possible to be treated or reversed every bit good as to really corroborate the diagnosing of likely AD [ 10 ] . Tests undertaken to except other possible causes include proving for anemia, encephalon tumors, chronic infection, poisoning from medicine, terrible depression, shot, thyroid disease and vitamin lack e.g. B12 lack [ 32 ] . The Mini Mental State Examination ( MMSE ) is a trial which assesses different mental abilities to find the badness of the cognitive damage [ 33 ] .

The original standards used for the clinical diagnosing of AD was established by a National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke ( NINCDS ) and the AD and Related Disorders Association ( ADRDA ) workgroup in 1984 [ 34 ] . The likely diagnosing of AD was basically based on the clinical opinion of a primary attention doctor sing the cause of the symptoms, the consequences obtained from cognitive trials and general neurological appraisal. Memory loss and decreased cognitive abilities were required to be important adequate to impact day-to-day life for a diagnosing of AD to happen [ 35 ] . This likely diagnosing was instituted with a assurance of more than 90 % [ 36 ] . A definite diagnois was merely possible by post-mortem scrutiny of the encephalon [ 3 ] as the standard was entirely based on clinical characteristics present [ 37 ] .

Since 1984, scientific progresss have occurred in the apprehension of the pathogenesis of AD and the ability to observe the pathophysiological procedure of AD with dependable biomarkers in vivo. Therefore, it was felt that this standards should be revised to absorb the progresss made in the field [ 38 ] . In 2011, new diagnostic standards and guidelines for AD were recommended by the National Institute on Aging ( NIA ) and the Alzheimer ‘s Association which renew, clarify and widen the guidelines [ 35 ] .

The new standard has led to the re-conceptualisation of AD, which now covers the full spectrum. Three phases of AD are identified, whereby the first phase, presymptomatic AD, is mostly symptomless [ 39 ] . It is suggested that the neuropathological procedures distinctive to AD can be recognised several old ages before the oncoming of showing clinical symptoms [ 40 ] . Promotions in engineering have allowed for the designation of AD-related encephalon alterations happening at this phase [ 41 ] . The three phases are presymptomatic AD, mild cognitive damage due to AD and dementedness due to AD [ 37 ] . Despite presymptomatic AD being identified as a phase of AD, diagnostic standards for usage by clinicians has non been established, as more research is required [ 42 ] .

The designation of possible biomarkers of AD has been incorporated into the new guidelines to help in the diagnosing of AD. Two of the chief biomarkers presently being studied include biomarkers showing AB accretion degrees in the intellectual cerebral mantle utilizing a PET-amyloid scan or those exhibiting devolving nerve cells in the median temporal lobe, identified by magnetic resonance imagination ( MRI ) [ 43 ] . Cerebrospinal unstable analysis may uncover down degrees of AB and raised degrees of both entire and phosphorylated tau proteins [ 44 ] .

As it stands, biomarkers are presently merely intended as research tools and can non be applied in the clinical scene. With standardization and increased research environing the possible dependability of these markers of disease, the hope is to accurately utilize these biomarkers to name AD in all three phases identified [ 37 ] .

Treatment Options Available in Managing Alzheimer ‘s Disease

No available intervention offers a remedy for AD. Despite this, research has demonstrated that active medical direction of AD allows for a significant betterment in the quality of life experienced by the persons with AD and their health professionals [ 45 ] . Treatment of the disease involves the usage of distinguishable medicines to detain patterned advance and manage symptoms, leting persons to map at a higher degree for an increased continuance of clip. Establishing a attention program to place the aid required and the ways of accomplishing this attention is besides of import in the direction of AD [ 33 ] .

In Ireland, four different drugs are prescribed for AD, including donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine and memantine [ 33 ] . The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence ( NICE ) recommends the prescription of these drugs for different degrees of the disease, based on MMSE tonss achieved [ 46 ] . These medicines have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration [ 47 ] . They should merely be continued if judged to be holding a good consequence [ 48 ] .

Among the drugs approved, there are two different categories of drug. Donepezil, prescribed for all phases of AD, and rivastigmine and galantamine, prescribed for mild to chair AD, are classed as cholinesterase inhibitors [ 49 ] . Their belongingss are somewhat different but the mechanism by which they aid the cognitive symptoms of AD is through suppressing acetylcholinesterase which is responsible for the dislocation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine [ 50 ] . Cholinesterase inhibitors do non halt the devastation of nerve cells. Therefore, a diminution in effectivity is noted as the disease progresses and farther loss of nerve cells occurs [ 47 ] . Side effects of these medicines include sickness, purging, anorexia and increased frequence of intestine gestures [ 51 ] .

Memantine is a drug classed as a glutamate regulator, approved for the intervention of moderate to severe AD, but declined for usage in mild AD by the FDA [ 47 ] . It has the possible to be used in concurrence with the cholinesterase inhibitor drugs as the mechanisms by which it works are different [ 52 ] . Glutamate is an of import neurotransmitter involved in knowledge, memory and larning [ 53 ] . Its ‘ map is highly compromised in AD, perchance due to the addition in oxidative emphasis caused by the AB accretions [ 54 ] . Therefore, by aiming the ordinance of glutamate in the encephalon, increased neurotransmission can happen, thereby restricting the cognitive symptoms in AD [ 51 ] .

These FDA approved drugs have undergone legion tests and surveies, with the consensus mostly being that betterments in cognitive map can ensue, but without changing the critical class of the disease [ 55 ] . They are, nevertheless, shown to be a cost-efficient intervention scheme with the possible to be cost-saving at the same clip [ 6 ] .

Other plausible curative intervention steps include those that treat symptoms, such as depression or anxiousness, every bit good as those with the possible to interfere with the infective procedures. [ 56 ] . Antidepressants and anixolytics are sometimes used to handle temper, anxiousness and restlessness [ 57 ] . The antioxidant belongingss of vitamin E have nominated it as a possible intervention in AD, as oxidative emphasis is a important job induced by AB accretions [ 58 ] . However, undistinguished grounds for it ‘s effectivity in protecting nerve cells from oxidative harm across all patients has resulted in the general dismissal of the vitamin in the intervention of the disease [ 59 ] .

Potential Measures that may Delay or Prevent the Onset of Alzheimer ‘s Disease

The interventions described have been proven to decelerate the patterned advance of symptoms of AD and hence autumn into the class of diagnostic therapies. They do non aim the implicit in pathological procedures [ 60 ] . Neuroprotective and neurorestorative therapies target the pathophysiology of AD and are therefore referred to as disease-modifying intercessions [ 61 ] .

A figure of different disease-modifying drugs are presently under development and being put through strict presymptomatic and clinical testing. As of yet, none have gone beyond these phases to go FDA approved [ 62 ] . Drugs being studied and developed are aimed at aiming a figure of different procedures involved in the pathogenesis of AD, including the production, collection and clearance of AB and the phosphorylation of tau [ 63 ] . Clinical test failures of late imply that treatments in the mild to chair phases of the disease come at a phase excessively tardily in the disease procedure [ 64 ] .

The advancement made in the constitution of biomarkers of AD and the ensuing possibility of naming presymptomatic AD means that the find of interventions with the potency to detain or forestall the oncoming of AD are expected to supplant [ 65 ] . These future interventions are anticipated to hold the ability to decelerate or halt the patterned advance of the disease, while continuing encephalon map. They will be most effectual when administered during the early phases of AD [ 35 ] .

Current advancement in research indicates a function for lifestyle factors in the strengthening and care of memory and other cognitive maps. These include dietetic intercessions, regular physical exercising, societal battle and decrease in the degrees of psychological emphasis [ 40 ] .

It has been suggested that lifestyle hazard factors for cardiovascular disease and AD convergence, as do familial hazard factors for the two diseases [ 66 ] . These include inaction, smoke, high blood pressure, high cholesterin and ill controlled diabetes. These hazard factors are besides linked to vascular dementedness [ 67 ] .

The mechanism by which regular physical activity provides protection from the development of AD is at present unknown [ 68 ] . A hypothesised mechanism assumes that it is related to the good effects that exercise has on the neuroendocrine emphasis system [ 69 ] . Dysfunction of cortisol stimulation and production due to chronic emphasis has been shown to do a negative downstream cascade of events that could finally ensue in increased AB plaques and neurofibrillary tangles [ 70 ] .

In footings of dietetic intercessions, an association between the attachment to a Mediterranean-type diet and decrease in cognitive diminution has resulted in increased involvement in the diet ‘s function in the bar of AD [ 71 ] . The hazard of developing major chronic degenerative diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, appear to be greatly reduced through devouring a Mediterranean based diet, which involves a high consumption of fruit and veggies, the regular ingestion of oily fish, the usage of vegetable oils, low consumption of nutrients with added sugars and a moderate consumption of intoxicant. Therefore, this diet could potentially help in hazard direction for AD every bit good as to forestall the patterned advance of predementia to overt dementedness [ 72 ] . The relationship between cognitive diminution and this diet appear to chiefly be due to vascular variables. Metabolic, oxidative and inflammatory mechanisms may besides hold a function here [ 73 ] . Increasing the consumption of fruits and veggies which are rich in antioxidants has been shown to detain the oncoming of AD [ 74 ] . A figure of surveies have correlated fat composing and it ‘s effects on cognitive diminution, whereby saturate fatty acids promote cognitive diminution while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids cut down the hazard associated with AD [ 75 ] .

A nexus between frequent cognitive activity, peculiarly in older persons, and the hazard of AD has been found to be in different surveies undertaken [ 76 ] . This nexus is as of yet unexplained. Suggestions of the increased development of communicating channels between encephalon cells therefore take downing the impact of AD related physiological alterations have been raised [ 69 ] . However, another hypothesis contradicts the existent nexus suggested by proposing that it is merely more hard to measure cognitive diminution in people who engage in regular exercising of the head [ 77 ] .


AD is an highly debilitating disease, with many complications that affect both the person and their carers. It is a disease with a figure of possible mechanisms of pathogenesis and hence an copiousness of possible preventive range. The biomarkers of pathogenesis are an highly of import research window, as with a discovery in this country, the potency for preventive therapies would be significantly increased. Although mostly treated therapeutically, the controling of hazard factors appears assuring.