Dramatic Increase in Alzheimer's Disease Projected
IN NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN MEDICINE
At the rate the number of American's with Alzheimer's disease is currently growing, it will increase from 4.5 million to 13.2 million by the year 2050. The most significant increase will be among people 85 years or older. Approximately 8 million people in that group will have Alzheimer's disease.
These dramatic projections, reported in the August 2003 issue of Archives of Neurology, underscore the need to find new ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease. Scientists are optimistic, however, that current research will lead to strategies for intervention early in the disease so that these projections will not become reality.
What Is Alzheimer's and What Causes It?
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia among older people. Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects the ability to carry out daily activities. Alzheimer's affects the parts of your brain that control thought, memory, and language.
Each day scientists are learning more about the disease, but currently its causes are unknown, and there is no cure, according to the National Institute on Aging (www.nia.nih.gov).
The disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German doctor. In 1906, he noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. He found abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers. Nowadays, these clumps and tangles are considered hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease.
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|Formal Education May Reduce Effects of Alzheimer's Disease|
Scientists have discovered new evidence that may motivate you to go back to school. Scientists say that formal education may provide you with a brain flexibility that could help reduce the effects of Alzheimer's disease on your thinking ability later in life if you get the disease.
The findings shed more light on the already known link between education and your everyday memory and learning ability. Education may make the brain more adaptable and flexible, similar to what scientists have previously discovered in experimental animals where environments were enriched with toys and mazes.
Scientists say that perhaps education will enable the parts of your brain damaged by Alzheimer's disease to work around the damage, allowing you to function at a higher level.
The widest differences or improvements in cognitive ability in the face of Alzheimer's disease were found in people who had some college education, ranging from a few years of undergraduate study to high levels of postgraduate work. Researchers look forward to finding out more as they study Alzheimer's disease in groups of people with an even wider range of educational backgrounds.
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