Alzheimer Disease – a short history.
Alzheimer’s disease, given its name after a German psychologist Alois Alzheimer, seems to be fast growing in this day and age. Unfortunately, symptoms like brain degeneration, cognitive impairment, and memory loss associated with the disease have been around for centuries.
Although Alzheimers disease history enlightens us as to where the disease got its name, Alois Alzheimer’s colleague Emil Kraepelin, played an equally important role in identifying this disease.
Alzheimer Disease Symptoms
Emil Kraepelin was the one to isolate and group the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, thus suggesting they were unique to this disease process. Alois Alzheimer, in turn, was the first person to understand what was actually happening inside the brains of Alzheimer patients.
After the identification of Alzheimer’s disease by these two men in the early twentieth century, there were not very many advances made in better understanding Alzheimer’s disease, or effectively treating the disease. At this point, Alzheimer’s disease could only be successfully diagnosed after death, by way of an autopsy.
Before Alois Alzheimer’s and Emil Capelin’s discoveries, patients between the ages of 45 and 65 displaying the symptoms were labeled as suffering from “pre-senile dementia”.
The name “Alzheimer’s disease” was not widely used during the 1970’s and 1980’s and was generally only used for people over the age of 65. Now that the disease can be recognized and properly diagnosed and treated it is known that the symptoms can begin in people as young as age 30. Alzheimer’s disease in young patients more than often have a known genetic factor, while the disease in older patients have a number of other factors that aid in its development.
Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment
As science and technology advanced, it has lead to a promising new time for Alzheimer’s disease patients and researchers. The first FDA approved medication developed to slow the Alzheimer’s disease process, Cognex, was approved in 1990, and three other medications followed shortly thereafter. These medications were used to slow cognitive impairment in cases of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, by increasing levels of acetylcholine in the patient’s brain.
Currently research is being done in order to find effective ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease from ever developing. Hormones, such as estrogen, and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, have been found to have a mediating effect, but can not totally prevent the development. Environmental factors can also play a role in Alzheimer’s disease prevention. It has also been established that people who keep their brains active, as well as their bodies, have a lesser risk of developing this disease.