As we have noted before, heart disease and cancer are the top two leading causes of death in the United States. Coming in at number six is Alzheimer’s disease. In 2014 even though it only accounts for 3.37% of all deaths, the total number is surprising. There were 84,974 deaths in 2014. Perhaps due to an aging population, the total of deaths and the percentage may increase in the future.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, which is typified by lessening ability to remember and think well enough to do every day things. Damage to neurons in the brain can lead to the changes that can eventually lead to causing inability to even walk or swallow. Sixty to eighty percent of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s.
Women are almost twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as men are. The risk for women at 65 is 1 in 6. For men it is almost 1 in 11. In fact women are more likely to get Alzheimer’s than they are to get breast cancer.
- The following are common signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or in leisure
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality, including apathy and depression.
(From Medical News Today)
Studies have shown there are lower rates of dementia in people who are active physically, socially, and mentally. Reading, writing, learning, and exercising may lower the risk.
Alzheimer’s Disease Myths
There are some common myths about Alzheimer’s disease that many people believe. It is not just older people who get Alzheimer’s disease. There is a possibly genetic form called early-onset that can begin in the 30s, 40s, or 50s. Also, Alzheimer’s is not normal. If you are forgetting some things – that is normal. Alzheimer’s gradually takes away so many other things like thinking, eating, talking, and other important every day activities.
Contrary to common beliefs, Alzheimer’s disease does in fact lead to death for many reasons. Just the forgetting of meals and liquids causes poor nutrition and too much weight loss. Pneumonia is a common cause due to problems breathing. In addition, wandering off is often dangerous to Alzheimer’s patients. There are often stories in the news about terrible cases of people having accidents or getting lost.
At the present time, there really is no treatment to cure Alzheimer’s disease. There are some approved medications that help some patients with symptoms for a while. There is no proof that Alzheimer’s can be caused by aluminum, sweeteners, fillings or any number of products that are commonly blamed for the onset of the disease.
The cause is not known right now, but a healthy lifestyle is interesting the scientists as a possible way to reduce the risk. There is much research going on right now. Hopefully more will be known in the near future.