Alzheimer's disease and dementia set to grow rapidly worldwide

Alzheimer's disease and dementia set to grow rapidly worldwide

By 2010, 35.6 million people are expected to be living with Alzheimer's disease globally, according to Alzheimer's Disease International. The total will probably double every couple of decades and reach approximately 65.7 million by 2030, and 115.4 million twenty years after that, the organization estimates.

Alzheimer's Disease International refers to the current Alzheimer's situation as "an epidemic that is increasing its pace with the graying of the population around the world". It adds that Alzheimer's is poorly recognized, worryingly underdiagnosed, and carries a stigma that causes serious problems for families of patients in all countries, regardless of income levels.

Alzheimer's Disease International recommends that:

  • WHO (World Health Organization) should declare dementia a world health priority.
  • Dementia should be declared a health priority by national governments globally. Countries should develop national strategies to provide services and support for patients with dementia, as well as their families.
  • Dementia strategies should be created by low and medium income countries based first on improving primary healthcare and other community services.
  • Developed nations should develop national dementia action plans with designated resource allocations.
  • Services should be developed which take into account the progressive nature of dementia.
  • Services should be developed and distributed in such a way that coverage is maximized and access is available for everybody. Dementia patients should benefit from services regardless of age, sex, income levels, disability, and where they live.
  • Government should collaborate, as should caregivers, patients, Alzheimer organizations, and other related NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and professional bodies.
  • More resources should be channeled towards Alzheimer and other dementia research. There should be more funded research on pharmacological and psychological treatments for Alzheimer's and other dementias - as well as prevention.

What is dementia?

Dementia is the progressive deterioration in cognitive function - the ability to process thought (intelligence).

Progressive means the symptoms will gradually get worse. The deterioration is more than might be expected from normal aging and is due to damage or disease. Damage could be due to a stroke, while an example of a disease might be Alzheimer's.

Dementia is a non-specific syndrome in which different areas of brain function may be affected, including memory, language, problem solving, and attention.

Dementia is not a disease in itself. Alzheimer's is a disease (see below for the difference between Alzheimer's disease and dementia).

When dementia emerges, the higher mental functions of the individual are involved initially. Eventually, during the later stages the patient may not know what day of the week it is, they may not know where they are, and might not be able to identify familiar people around them.

Although dementia is much more common among elderly people, it can affect adults of any age.

What is the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's disease is a specific disease; dementia is a set of symptoms. Dementia is not a disease.

If you have an infection in your leg, your leg may feel pain. Pain is the symptom and the infection is the disease.

During the course of the Alzheimer's disease plaques and tangles develop within the structure of the brain. This causes brain cells to die. Patients with Alzheimer's also have a deficiency in the levels of some vital brain chemicals which are involved with the transmission of messages in the brain - neurotransmitters.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. The disease gets worse as it develops - it is a progressive disease. There is no current cure for Alzheimer's, although there are ways of slowing down its advance and helping patients with some of the symptoms. Alzheimer's is also a terminal disease - it is incurable and causes death.

According the National Institute on Aging, there are estimated to be between 2.4 million and 4.5 million Americans who have Alzheimer's. There are approximately 417,000 people in the UK with Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Society.

Dementia can be caused by:

  • Alzheimer's disease - This is by far the most common cause of dementia. The chemistry and structure of the brain of a person with Alzheimer's disease changes and his brain cells die prematurely.
  • Stroke (Vascular problems) - this means problems with blood vessels (veins and arteries). Our brain needs a good supply of oxygen-rich blood. If this supply is undermined in any way our brain cells could die - causing symptoms of vascular dementia. Symptoms may appear suddenly, or gradually. A major stroke will cause symptoms to appear suddenly while a series of mini strokes will not.
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies - spherical structures develop inside nerve cells. Brain cells are nerve cells; they form part of our nervous system. These spherical structures in the brain damage brain tissue. The patient's memory, concentration and ability to speak are affected. Dementia with Lewy bodies is sometimes mistaken for Parkinson's disease because the symptoms are fairly similar.
  • Fronto-temporal dementia - this includes Pick's disease. The front part of the brain is damaged. The patient's behavior and personality are affected first, later his memory changes.
  • Other diseases - progressive supranuclear palsy, Korsakoff's syndrome, Binswanger's disease, HIV and AIDS, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Dementia is also more common among patients who suffer from Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Motor Neuron disease and Multiple Sclerosis. People who suffer from AIDS sometimes go on to develop cognitive impairment.

Alzheimer’s Vs Dementia - Brain Function, Death Differences of Alzheimer’s and Dementia (Video Medical And Professional 2018).

Section Issues On Medicine: Disease