Alzheimer’s Disease

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. At first, people with Alzheimer’s disease may notice mild confusion and difficulty remembering. Eventually, people with the disease may even forget important people in their lives and undergo dramatic personality changes.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia — a group of brain disorders that cause the loss of intellectual and social skills. In Alzheimer’s disease, the brain cells degenerate and die, causing a steady decline in memory and mental function.

What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?

As he moves into the next 6 stages, an Alzheimer’s patient will see more and more changes in his thinking and reasoning.

Stage 1: Normal Outward Behavior
At an early stage, you won’t have any symptoms that you can spot. Only a PET scan or an imaging test that shows how the brain is working can reveal whether he’s got Alzheimer’s.

Stage 2: Very Mild Changes
You still might not notice anything amiss in your loved one’s behavior, but he may be picking up on small differences, things that even a doctor doesn’t catch. This could include forgetting a word or misplacing objects.

At this stage, subtle symptoms of Alzheimer’s don’t interfere with his ability to work or live independently.

Stage 3: Mild Decline
It’s at this point that you start to notice changes in your loved one’s thinking and reasoning, such as:
• Forgets something he just read
• Asks the same question over and over
• Has more and more trouble making plans or organizing
• Can’t remember names when meeting new people

Stage 4: Moderate Decline
During this period, the problems in thinking and reasoning that you noticed in stage 3 get more obvious, and new issues appear. Your friend or family member might:
• Forget details about himself
• Have trouble putting the right date and amount on a check
• Forget what month or season it is
• Have trouble cooking meals or even ordering from a menu

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Decline
Your loved one might start to lose track of where he is and what time it is. He might have trouble remembering his address, phone number, or where he went to school. He could get confused about what kind of clothes to wear for the day or season.

Stage 6: Severe Decline
As Alzheimer’s progresses, your loved one might recognize faces but forget names. He might also mistake a person for someone else, for instance, thinking his wife is his mother. Delusions might set in, such as thinking he needs to go to work even though he no longer has a job.

Stage 7: Very Severe Decline
Many basic abilities in a person with Alzheimer’s, such as eating, walking, and sitting up, fade during this period. You can stay involved by feeding your loved one with soft, easy-to-swallow food, helping him use a spoon, and making sure he drinks. This is important, as many people at this stage can no longer tell when they’re thirsty.

How is Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed?

Physical and neurological exam

Your doctor will perform a physical exam, and is likely to check your overall neurological health by testing your:

• Reflexes
• Muscle tone and strength
• Ability to get up from a chair and walk across the room
• Sense of sight and hearing
• Coordination
• Balance

Blood Tests

Your doctor may recommend blood tests. These blood tests may help your doctor rule out the potential causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

Brain Imaging

Images of the brain are now used chiefly to pinpoint visible abnormalities related to conditions other than Alzheimer’s disease — such as strokes, trauma or tumors — that may cause cognitive change. New imaging applications — currently used primarily in major medical centers or in clinical trials — may enable doctors to detect specific brain changes caused by Alzheimer’s.

Brain-imaging technologies include:

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of your brain. MRIs are used to rule out other conditions that may account for or be adding to cognitive symptoms. In addition, they may be used to assess whether shrinkage in brain regions implicated in Alzheimer’s disease has occurred.

Computerized tomography (CT). A CT scan produces cross-sectional images (slices) of your brain. It’s currently used chiefly to rule out tumors, strokes and head injuries.

Positron emission tomography (PET). During a PET scan, you’ll be injected in a vein with a low-level radioactive tracer. The tracer may be a special form of glucose (sugar) that shows overall activity in various brain regions. This can show which parts of your brain aren’t functioning well. New PET techniques are able to detect your brain level of plaques (amyloid) and tangles (tau), the two hallmark abnormalities linked to Alzheimer’s. However, these new PET techniques are generally found in research settings or in clinical trials.

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). In special circumstances such as rapidly progressive dementia or very young onset dementia, a cerebrospinal fluid examination may be performed. The spinal fluid can be tested for biomarkers such as Total Tau, Beta-Amyloid (1-42), Beta-Amyloid (1-40), Beta-Amyloid ratio (1-42/1- 40), and Apolipoproteins E Genotyping tests, that indicate the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease.

If you or your family members are facing any of these symptoms consult your doctor immediately.

Public awareness initiative by NeuroUNO – A super specialty division by Metropolis

Disease Name Test Name Details Test Code Sample Schedule Report on
Alzheimer disease Alzheimer disease screening profile ELISA A0623 CSF (2 ml in plain container) 1st & 3rd Tuesday next day 5.0 pm
Alzheimer disease Apolipoproteins E PCR Reverse Probe Hybridisation A0618 EDTA Whole Blood 6ml Monday 07.30 am after 12 days