Alzheimer's disease is a neurological disorder in which the death of brain cells causes memory loss and cognitive decline.
It is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases of dementia in the United States. As symptoms worsen, it becomes harder for people to remember recent events, to reason, and to recognize people they know. Like all types of dementia, Alzheimer's is caused by brain cell death. It is a neurodegenerative disease, which means there is progressive brain cell death that happens over time.
In a person with Alzheimer's, the tissue has fewer and fewer nerve cells and connections.
Autopsies have shown that the nerve tissue in the brain of a person with Alzheimer's has tiny deposits, known as plaques and tangles, that build up on the tissue.
Risk factors remain genetic and environmental.
The first picture a shrunken brain due to nerve cells and brain tissue damage and death. The second picture shows the tangles and plaques formed during alzheimer’s disease. Tangles form inside dying cells. Tangles are twisted fibers of a protein called tau. In healthy areas, tau helps keep the transport system on track. But in areas where tangles are forming, the twisted strands of tau essentially disintegrate the transport system so that nutrients and other essential supplies can no longer move through the cells, which eventually die.
Plaques are abnormal clusters of chemically “sticky” proteins called beta-amyloid that build up between nerve cells. The most damaging form of beta-amyloid may be groups of a few pieces rather than the plaques themselves. The small clumps may block cell-to-cell signaling at synapses. They may also activate immune system cells that trigger inflammation and devour disabled cells.
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