As the largest resource of information specific to women's brain health, we are sure you will find what you are looking for, and promise that you will discover new information.
Published on: June 17, 2017
by Dana Dovey for Medical Daily:
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive brain disease and the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. While symptoms of AD such as memory loss and impaired judgement are widely recognized, we know less about what the disease does to the brain. Science still has a long way to go when it comes to understanding AD, but here’s what we know so far.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the formation of “plaques” and “tangles” in the brain. According to The National Institutes of Health, these protein buildups can impair connections between nerve cells called neurons, and even cause neuron death. In normal brain tissue, a protein called tau stabilizes microtubules, a key part of cell structure. But in a brain with AD, protein strands become tangled, making it difficult to transport key nutrients throughout the brain. Without nutrients, brain cells will die.
These disrupted connections and cell deaths cause many of AD’s characteristic symptoms. Scientists still aren’t sure whether plaque buildups and tangles cause AD, or whether the irregular clusters occur as the disease progresses, Healthline reported.
In addition to memory, learning and thinking skills also require efficient transmissions between brain cells. Disruptions and deaths of brain cells also causes impairments in these two critical functions.
In addition, AD can cause the surface layer that covers the cerebrum to shrink. This shrinkage can directly affect a patient’s ability to plan ahead, recall facts, and concentrate.
Unsurprisingly, this brain damage often starts in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with memory formation, The NIH reported. Increased cell death and disconnection in the hippocampus can cause brain tissue to shrink substantially, eventually affecting brain function. However, researchers believe that this initial damage can begin as early as a decade before any symptoms start.
While AD causes the shrinkage of many parts of the brain, the ventricles, or chamber within the brain that contains cerebrospinal fluid, become noticeably enlarged, Bright Focus reported. This gives the brain of a person with AD a distinctive and different look than that of a healthy brain.
The brain’s immune system recognizes brain cell death as injury. As a result, it causes an inflammatory reaction. Although inflammation is meant to protect the body against infection, the longer it goes on the more likely it is to cause damage to healthy cells. According to The Dana Foundation, chronic inflammation caused by AD can further damage brain cells.
Some scientists even suggest that inflammation in the brain may be a trigger for AD, as having a head injury in the past can increase the risk of developing this condition. In addition, systemic infection, which also causes inflammation, accelerates the disease, while other studies show that older people who use anti-inflammatory drugs regularly have significantly lower rates of Alzheimer’s.
Autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and coeliac disease, may be linked to a heightened risk of dementia, indicates a large long term study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health March 1, 2017. Researchers...
You are what you eat; but more than than, your brain is very much what you eat, at least according to mounting evidence from scientists. A new collection of five studies published by Clinical Psychological...
Sometimes science jibes with ancient wisdom on simple but deceptively powerful things. Case in point – walking. A wealth of research bolsters the Zen of putting one foot in front of the other, with stronger science than...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.