What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

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Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive, irreversible disease that affects brain cells and produces memory loss and intellectual impairment in as many as 4 million American adults.

This disease affects people of all racial, economic, and educational backgrounds.   AD is the most common cause of dementia in adults.  Dementia is defined as loss of memory and intellect that interferes with routine personal, social, or occupational activities.  Dementia is not a disease; rather, it is a group of symptoms that may accompany certain diseases or conditions.  Other symptoms include changes in personality, mood, or behavior.  Although AD primarily affects people age 65 or older, it also may affect people in their 50s and, although rarely, even younger.

Other causes of irreversible dementia include multi-infarct dementia (a series of minor strokes resulting in widespread death of brain tissue), Pick’s disease, Binswanger’ s disease, Parkinson’ s disease, Huntington’ s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), multiple sclerosis, and alcohol abuse.

See the next topic in this series:  The Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Acorn wishes to acknowledge the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center that were the sources for this valuable content.