Treatment of Alzheimers disease abroad
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative brain disease. This pathology mostly affects elderly people. Alzheimer’s disease is the key reason of dementia (mental disability). 40% of acquired dementia cases present asAlzheimer’s disease.
Causes of Alzheimer’s disease
Source of pathology is a violation of the amyloid protein metabolism process. Polypeptide accumulates in the brain and causes neuronal death.
Key risk factor for Alzheimer’s is patient’s age. The incidence of the illness among the representatives of different age groups is as follows:
- 65-69 years old – 0,3%
- 80-84 years old – 3,4%
- Older than 90 years – 5,6%
All the rest risk factors are:
- Female sex
- Hypertensive disease
- Low intellectual activity throughout life
- Atherosclerosis of brain vessels
- Depression in the medical history
- High level of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood
- Low physical activity
- Craniocerebral trauma in the anamnesis
Genetic background is the basic risk factor for people who are diagnosed with this illness before the age of 65. Presence of certain genes can 100% guarantee Alzheimer’s disease for their carrier after the age of 40. Other genes increase the chance of getting this pathology by several times in comparison with the average rating.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is divided into three stages according to the presence of clinical signs and their severity:
1. Pre-existing disease stage (10-15 years from the time of the illness onset) is asymptomatic and can be only detected by the morphological examination.
2. Moderate cognitive disorders stage lasts for about 5 years and affects memory at the first place.A patient still preserves the intelligence and self-criticism as he realizes his own forgetfulness. There are no restrictions in the everyday routine because a patient is able to maintain his life without any assistance.
3. Dementia stage lasts for about 10-15 years.
New cognitive disorders can appear:
- Current events are not remembered
- The events that are closest in chronology are gradually forgotten
- Fictitious events appear
- Speech is broken
- Person is poorly oriented in space
- Patient does not understand words that hears
- 30% of patients develop depression
Behavioral disorders are appearing later. Patient becomes suspicious, sometimes rude. Night sleep is disrupted. A sufferer will not understand the speech referred to him at the final stage of the illness. He loses his balance and is unable to walk.
Symptoms appear and become more severe gradually and don’t have clear time limits between the stages.
Diagnostics of Alzheimer’s disease
Diagnosis is highly probable to be established during patient’s lifetime but not 100%. Alzheimer’s disease can be exactly identified only with morphological brain examination (according to the results of the autopsy). Diagnostics background is anamnesis data and results of the neurological examination.
Diagnostics criteria are:
- Decrease in the memory ability mainly as for current and recent events
- Absence of the focal neurological signs
- Decreased intellectual ability
- Fully kept consciousness
- Changed social behavior
Diagnosis is considered to be confirmed if all or a part of the mentioned symptoms are present during 6 months or more.
According to the laboratory and instrumental tests they can find out additional signs of Alzheimer’s disease, for instance:
- Increased level of tau protein and fragments of the amyloid protein in cerebrospinal fluid
- An increase in slow wave activity in the posterior cortex of the brain recorded by EEG (electroencephalography)
- CT and MRI are applied for the differential diagnostics and help to exclude other possible illnesses that can also lead to dementia
Certain university clinics use PET (positron emission tomography) for in vivo reliable diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Contrasting agent is introduced into the patient’s body during this procedure. The substance is accumulated in the amyloid plaques and reveals the brain areas affected by the pathological process.
Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease abroad
Alzheimer’s disease is treated with conservative therapy. Neuroprotective drugs are prescribed to slow the progression of neurodegenerative processes. Symptomatic treatment is used, allowing the patient to maintain social skills, cognitive functions, ability to self-service as long as possible.
Currently, there are no treatment techniques that proved their effectiveness for slowing down the Alzheimer’s development. However, many drugs and therapeutic approaches exist that are being still researched. It is likely that in the near future some of them will be used in German hospitals and other countries with the advanced medicine.
The most promising among the latest treatment methods of Alzheimer’s disease are:
- Vaccination. A patient is introduced a medicine containing amyloid protein antigenes. This way, the immune system is able to attack dangerous protein deposits in the brain and thereby prevent the death of nerve cells.
- Monoclonal antibodies are artificially synthesized proteins that are presupposed to influence the disease course as they reduce the amyloid protein deposits.
- Stem cells are used to replace the damaged neurons. Stem cells are obtained from the patient’s blood. They are differentiated into the nerve cell in laboratory conditions and then introduced into the patient’s body.
Alzheimer’s disease - Prognosis
Alzheimer’s disease is constantly progressing and reduces patient’s life expectancy. However, pathological process has different course in different patients. Some of the patients have dementia within 3-5 years already after the appearance of the first clinical signs; some other can have it after 10 years and more.
Negative prognostic factors that prove the likely faster development of Alzheimer’s disease are:
- First symptoms are manifested before the age of 60
- Speech disorders
- Vision hallucinations
- Ischemia (insufficiency of blood supply) of the brain
- Myoclonia (involuntary contraction of the muscles)
However, pathology usually does not lead to death. Most patients die from causes not related to Alzheimer's disease.