What is Alzheimer's disease?

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:46 pm
Alzheimer's (ALLS-hi-mers) disease is a progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking, and reasoning. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia (dim-EN-sha), which is a loss of intellectual functioning that is so severe it interferes with daily life and eventually results in death. Men and women are affected almost equally by Alzheimer's; it’s the fourth leading cause of death in adults. The causes of Alzheimer's disease aren’t known, but age and heredity have been identified as risk factors. Currently, there is no treatment to stop or reverse the effects of the disease. The onset of Alzheimer's disease is almost imperceptible. As the disease progresses, symptoms include gradual memory loss, a decline in the ability to perform routine tasks, disorientation, impaired judgment, personality changes, difficulty in learning, and loss of language skills. How quickly these changes occur varies from person to person, but the disease eventually leaves its victims totally unable to care for themselves. The disease can last from three to 20 years. For more information, consult your health care provider.

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