The Victoria Memory Clinic

Alzheimer Disease

What is Memory Loss?
The Victoria Memory Clinic - 250 - 4392 West Saanich Road, Victoria, BC
About Alzheimer Disease
Diagnosis and Treatment of Alzheimer Disease
The earliest and most pervasive symptom of Alzheimer Disease is memory loss.

What is Alzheimer Disease?

Alzheimer Disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder of the central nervous system notably characterized by deterioration of memory and cognitive abilities. It is the most prevalent type of dementia. Alzheimer Disease is not a 'normal' part of the aging process. The earliest and most pervasive symptom of Alzheimer Disease is memory loss.

 

Symptoms

Alzheimer Disease affects individuals differently. Although individuals may exhibit different symptoms at different stages of the disease, there do exist certain symptoms that are common to all individuals with Alzheimer Disease. These include:

  • Short term memory loss and, eventually, long term memory loss.
  • Difficulty with comprehension, communication, and word recall.
  • Deterioration of ability to reason and make judgments.

Other symptoms affecting moods, emotions, behaviour, and physical abilities commonly appear. For a detailed listing of symptoms that generally arise in individuals suffering from Alzheimer Disease, please refer to The Alzheimer Society of Canada website at www.alzheimers.ca.

 

Causes

At this time, there is no known cause of Alzheimer Disease. The scientific community has been able to separate Alzheimer Disease into two different types: (1) Familial Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer Disease ("FAD"), and (2) Sporadic Alzheimer Disease ("SAD").

According to The Alzheimer Society of Canada, FAD is the rare type of Alzheimer Disease comprising 5% to 10% of all cases and being passed on genetically. If one parent has the affected gene, then each child of that parent has a 50% probability of inheriting the gene. If the child inherits the affected gene, then that child will eventually develop Alzheimer Disease.

Sporadic Alzheimer Disease ("SAD") is the more common type of Alzheimer Disease comprising 90% to 95% of all cases. Although it has not yet been determined as to whether or not SAD has a genetic component, it has been shown that those individuals with a family history of Alzheimer Disease are at greater risk of developing Alzheimer Disease. Certain other risk factors related to the development of SAD include:

  • Age
    1 in 20 Canadians over age 65 is affected. Past age 85, the chances increase to 1 in 4.
  • Multiple Head Injury
    Those who suffer multiple head injuries with loss of consciousness may be more likely to develop SAD.
  • Down Syndrome
    As they age, individuals with Down Syndrome develop the neuroanatomical changes associated with Alzheimer Disease.
  • Aluminum
    Exposure to aluminum in the environment may increase the likelihood of developing SAD.

For a detailed listing of possible causes of Alzheimer Disease, please refer to The Alzheimer Society of Canada website at www.alzheimers.ca

 

Diagnosis

The scientific community has not determined how to conclusively diagnosis Alzheimer Disease.

At present, diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease is made by eliminating other possible causes of an individual's symptoms. If no other cause is believed to be responsible for the individual's symptoms, and these symptoms are consistent with Alzheimer Disease, then the individual would commonly be diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease.

Early assessment and subsequent diagnosis is of utmost importance since an individual in the early stages of Alzheimer Disease (i.e., mild memory and cognitive impairment) may be effectively treated with medications.

 

Treatment

In Canada, several medications are available to temporarily halt progression of memory and cognitive deterioration. These medications require a physician's prescription. They are most beneficial to individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer Disease (i.e., mild memory and cognitive impairment). Unfortunately, individuals in the moderate to later stages of Alzheimer Disease typically do not show improvement nor slowing of symptoms. This makes early diagnosis imperative for the purpose of administering effective treatment.

 

The Victoria Memory Clinic
250 - 4392 West Saanich Road, Victoria, BC, V8Z 3E9
Telephone: 250.881.1145 | Fax: 250-590-6673
Email: info@memoryclinic.ca | Website: www.memoryclinic.ca


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