Alzheimer's Disease

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  • A major cause of dementia, characterized by a nearly complete loss of cholinergic neurons (that use acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter) in areas of the forebrain and limbic system that are particularly important for memory. The disease was named after the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer. Alzheimer's disease has a prevalence of 3% by age 75, with an average duration of 7 years from onset to death. Patients with Alzheimer's disease first become emotionally flat, then disoriented and mentally vacant. Severity of symptoms and duration depend on intelligence, gender, and education. Highly intelligent people show signs of Alzheimer later than the general populace, and women and well-educated individuals deteriorate more slowly. Drugs that enhance the availability and action of acetylcholine (among others), as well as cognitive therapies, ...

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