What is Alzheimer’s disease dementia and MCI?
It is believed that “Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of Dementia among older people. Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person’s ability to carry out daily activities.
AD begins slowly. It first involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language. People with AD may have trouble remembering things that happened recently or names of people they know. A related problem, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), causes more memory problems than normal for people of the same age. Many, but not all, people with MCI will develop AD.
In AD, over time, symptoms get worse. People may not recognize family members or have trouble speaking, reading or writing. They may forget how to brush their teeth or comb their hair. Later on, they may become anxious or aggressive, or wander away from home. Eventually, they need total care. This can cause great stress for family members who must care for them.
AD usually begins after age 60. The risk goes up as you get older. Your risk is also higher if a family member has had the disease. No treatment can stop the disease. However, some drugs may help keep symptoms from getting worse for a limited time.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition in which people have memory or other thinking problems greater than normal for their age and education, but their symptoms are not as severe as those seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease. More older people with MCI, compared with those without MCI, go on to develop Alzheimer’s. Studies are underway to learn why some people with MCI progress to Alzheimer’s and others do not.
The problems associated with MCI may also be caused by certain medications, cerebrovascular disease (which affects blood vessels that supply the brain), and other factors. Some of the problems brought on by these conditions can be managed or reversed.
The type of MCI with memory loss as the main symptom is called amnestic MCI. In another type, nonamnestic MCI, the main symptom is an impaired thinking skill other than memory loss, such as trouble planning and organizing or poor judgment.
How to diagnose AD?
The Diagnosis is very difficult, but we can provide guidance to a possible diagnosis. Small abnormalities – amyloid plaques and tau tangles, can be formed in the brain and found in specific locations throughout, are two distinguishing hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease Dementia. Advanced testing, such as PET scans, MRI, DNA and spinal fluid analysis, can shed more light on the probability of Alzheimer’s, but still, at this time, a conclusive diagnosis is only obtained through close examination of brain tissue post-mortem. Very helpful can be psychometric testing, specific memory tests that can guide the clinician as to the type of dementia the patient has and the level.
Some of these tests can provide information even before development of dementia, in a stage which is called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
Upon consultation with us we will develop a specific diagnostic plan and cost.
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