Glasgow Memory Clinic Currently has a range of studies running of potential new treatments that are sutable for individauls with Alzheimer's disease. Contact us for more information.
Every case of Alzheimer's Disease is likely to follow a unique course and manifest itself in different ways. This makes diagnosis, initially, difficult. There is now increasing emphasis on early diagnosis and memory clinic services are now becoming an integral part of health care services in many countries.
The disease is a progressive one. Early signs of the onset of the syndrome may include a number of the following symptoms: Memory impairment which is often one of the earliest symptoms, growing confusion over names, appointments and recent events; dramatic mood swings for no discernible reason; increasing withdrawal from those around them and a lack of confidence. As yet no cause has been identified for the onset of Alzheimer's Disease.
There is some evidence that genetic inheritance has some bearing on the likelihood of any individual developing the disease. A number of theories, such as exposure to aluminum being a factor in the onset, have now largely seen as without foundation.
One factor that has clearly emerged in the development of Alzheimer's is age.
The prevalence of the dementia moves from one in 20 in the over 65s to one in 5 of the over 80s.
Although, the factors that trigger the disease remain unclear, there is increasing understanding of its physical manifestations. According to the pioneering work of the neurologist Alois Alzheimer, who first identified the syndrome, as the disease develops plaques and tangles develop in the brain structure. This is thought to cause progressive death of brain cells, leading to the mental impairment outlined earlier. Although there is no cure currently available it is known from autopsy studies that the chemical messanger acetylcholine is often depleted in patients with Alzheimer's disease.
This knowledge has led to the development of treatments that aim to boost acetylcholine levels in the brain. There are currently three drugs available for the specific treatment of mild to moderately severe Alzheimer's disease. These drugs are the acetylcholine esterase inhibitors Aricept (Donepezil), Exelon (Rivastigmine) and Reminyl (Galantamine).
These treatments may retard the progression of the symptoms of the disease.
The drugs are symptomatic treatments and at this time are not thought to modify the underlying disease process. They can however lead to significant improvements in cognition and memory, ability to perform daily tasks and in some cases can alleviate difficult to contol behavioural