Definition of Alzheimers
Alzheimers disease is a progressive disorder that attacks the brains neurons, or its nerve cells. The damage that this degenerative disorder does results in the loss of memory and language skills, and it is also the most common cause of dementia or the loss of intellectual function among people over the age of 65. Alzheimers disease is not a normal part of aging, but is a destructive condition that causes intense deterioration in the brain and leads to personality and behavioral changes along with severe and crippling dementia.
The origin of Alzheimers disease comes from the German physician Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who first recognized a case of the condition in 1906 from a 51 year old woman. After her autopsy was performed it was revealed that she had plaques and tangles in her brain that today are the defining characteristics of an Alzheimers disease diagnosis. The plaques in the brain are actually clumps of protein fragments and other cellular material. These items actually form outside and around the neurons and begin to damage these neurons so severely that the brain is no longer able to function in the way it was designed to. There are also neurofibrillary tangles that are present in the brain with Alzheimers disease. These tangles feature twisted fibers that build up inside the nerve cells.
Seeing both plaques and tangles in the brain in an autopsy is the only real way to officially diagnose an individual with Alzheimers disease. However, medical experts are still unsure if these plaques and tangles cause Alzheimers disease or if they are simply a byproduct of the condition. When the neurons in the brain are damaged from these plaques and tangles, serious difficulties begin to form and the neurotransmitters in the brain start to deteriorate and eventually die. Slowly different cognitive difficulties start to form in the patients brain as these neurotransmitters begin to fail which is when issues with short and long term memory, language skills and more begin to present themselves.