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Understanding Alzheimer’s disease: Causes, symptoms and treatment

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that mainly affects older people. It can cause problems with memory, language and behaviour, and can eventually lead to a loss of autonomy. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn about the causes, symptoms and treatments available for this disease.


Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that mainly affects older people. It is characterised by progressive memory loss, language difficulties, difficulty carrying out simple tasks and loss of autonomy.

The exact causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not yet known, but genetic and environmental factors may play a role. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are treatments that can help slow its progression and improve patients’ quality of life.

Degenerative diseases are characterised by a gradual decline in the ability to function. This decline is due to the slow deterioration of the body’s major organs or systems.

Definition of degenerative diseases:

The most common types of degenerative disease are cardiovascular disease, dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Parkinson’s disease, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are other examples.

Degenerative diseases tend to be progressive. This means that they get worse over time and eventually become life-threatening if left untreated.



The exact causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not yet known, but research has identified genetic and environmental factors that may play a role in its development. People with a family history of Alzheimer’s have a higher risk of developing the disease. Environmental factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and unhealthy diet can also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers continue to work to better understand the causes of the disease and to develop more effective treatments.


Alzheimer’s symptoms can vary from person to person, but they tend to develop slowly and get worse over time. Early signs may include memory problems, difficulty carrying out daily tasks, changes in mood and behaviour, and problems with speech and communication. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include increasing memory loss, confusion, disorientation, difficulty speaking and understanding, and changes in personality and behaviour. It is important to see a doctor if you or a loved one has symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.


What are plaques?

Plaques are deposits of protein fragments called beta-amyloid peptides and other chemicals outside the brain cells. They are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

The plaques are the result of abnormal conversion of a protein called amyloid precursor protein (APP). APP is produced by nerve cells and transported to the cell membrane where it is cleaved by enzymes called secretases.

This releases a fragment of APP that can be converted into beta-amyloid peptides inside neurons or released into the space between neurons (called the synapse). The role of amyloid-beta peptides in Alzheimer’s disease is unclear, but they may contribute to synaptic dysfunction or neuronal death.


Tangles are clusters of twisted protein fibres found in the brain cells of people with Alzheimer’s disease. They are one of the two main symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, along with plaques (abnormal protein deposits).

What are tangles in Alzheimer’s disease?

In Alzheimer’s disease, tangles are twisted strands of a protein called tau that form inside brain cells and interfere with their function. The exact cause of these twisted fibres is unknown, but it is likely that they develop as a result of chemical changes in brain cells over time.

Tangles are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. They are one of the two main symptoms of the disease (with plaques).


Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, treatments are available to help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

Medications can be prescribed to improve memory and cognitive function, and to treat behavioural and psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Non-drug therapies, such as occupational therapy and behavioural therapy, can also help people manage their symptoms and maintain their quality of life. It is important to work closely with a doctor to determine the best treatment plan for each patient.


Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult and exhausting, but there are strategies that can help make the process more manageable. It is important to create a safe and structured environment for the person with the disease, using visual reminders such as calendars and schedules to help maintain routine. Stimulating activities, such as music and art, can also help to improve the mood and quality of life of the person with the disease. It is also important to take care of yourself as a carer by seeking support from friends, family or support groups to avoid burnout.



Preventive measures against Alzheimer’s disease fall into three categories:

1- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: In order to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease, some good habits can be adopted on a daily basis:

– A healthy, balanced diet that contains the nutrients needed for the brain to function properly reduces the risk of developing dementia.

– Physical activity, the fight against a sedentary lifestyle.

– Intellectually stimulating activities are likely to increase cognitive reserve.

2- Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease by reducing vascular risk factors:

– Do not smoke, avoid alcohol;

– Recognising and, if necessary, treating high blood pressure or diabetes.

3- Recommendations for the use of medicines:

The prevention of Alzheimer’s disease also requires greater vigilance in the use of medicines:

– Avoid/limit the use of memory enhancing drugs (psychotropic drugs, including benzodiazepines).

– Avoidance/limitation of anticholinergic drugs, which are classically inappropriate in older people.


Our neurology department offers a wide range of services to help you manage Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders.

Our team includes neurologists, psychiatrists, social workers and specially trained nurses who are experts in managing people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related problems.

Our aim is to help your closed persons maintain as much independence as possible while providing the highest quality of care.