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Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia, a term used to describe a group of brain disorders that cause memory loss and a decline in mental function, over time. In fact, Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting about 4.5 million men and women in the United States.
The incidence of Alzheimer's disease increases with age, and is very rare among people younger than 60. It affects up to 50 percent of people older than 85, and the risk increases with age. For example, for every 5-year age group beyond 65, the percentage of people with Alzheimer's disease doubles. Although the first symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are often confused with the changes that take place in normal aging, it's important to remember that Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging.
Doctors and scientists are making steady progress in understanding some of the ways in which Alzheimer's disease affects the brain, but the cause is still unknown. They do know, however, that genetics may play a role. One gene has been linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, and some research has shown that having high cholesterol or high blood pressure may also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
To learn more about what is happening inside the brain of a person with Alzheimer's disease, it's important to understand the basics of how the brain works. For further information see The Whole Brain Atlas from the Harvard Medical School website which has indepth neuroimages of the normal brain and the brain with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Herbert et al. (2001). Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders 15(4), 169-173.
If you would like more information about the Alzheimer's Disease Assistance Center, please contact
Kristen Chapin-Lavigne, Office Manager
Phone: (518) 564-3377
Toll-Free Phone: (800) 388-0199
Fax: (518) 564-2328
Mailing AddressAlzheimer's Disease Assistance Center (ADAC)