The Symptoms and Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s develops gradually, with mental changes becoming observable between the ages of 40 and 60 years of age (although cases of earlier onset exist). The duration of the disease is typically between two and eight years (Kaufman). The common symptoms that arise during this time include(taken fromKaufman):
Early Symptoms
memory defects
mood changes
apathy
agitation
confusion leading eventually to profound dementia
Late Stage Symptoms
speech disorders
loss of motor control (apraxia)
epileptic type seizures
Parkinson’s type halting gait
facial or extremity paralysis
stroke
Patients of Alzheimers progressively weaken as their symptoms grow in number and virulence and eventually succomb to the disease. Death often comes in the form of pneumonia know as aspiration pneumonia. In such a case, the patient normally inhales some food or some other substance and gets this lodged within their lungs. The lodged substance then provides a suitable breeding ground which then promotes infection and the onset of pneumonia (Berkow).

The following images compare a normal brain to that of an Alzheimer patient’s brain. Note ventricular dilation , destruction of gray matter and hippocampus by plaques and tangles and the shrinking away of the brain from the skull (image scanned from Glenner Article):

The following images take the above diagram and show the actual images one would see upon examining a healthy brain and an Alzheimer’s patient’s brain.

First the Normal Brain:

Alzheimer’s brain
An Alzheimer’s brain, in comparison, can be seen in this image:

As you can see, the Alzheimer brain has notable spreading of the sulci and overall shrinkage, with the occipital region being spared for the most part.
These images were taken from the following web site: http://www-medlib.med.utah.edu/WebPath/CNSHTML/CNS013.html”. Our thanks go out to them.

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