Alois Alzheimers Disease ALZHEIMER? S DISEASE Alois Alzheimer was the first man to discover Alzheimer? s disease. Before this discovery, the illness was classified as insanity. There is now a more sensitive understanding of this disease. Alzheimer? s is a disease that slowly, but surely, causes one to lose his memory. Symptoms are simple like one not being able to remember where he placed his keys. Slowly he begins to forget names and telephone numbers until eventually most of his memory is gone.

Forsyth and Ritzline claim that Alzheimer? s affects mainly middle-aged and older people, although there has been one case of a twenty-eight year old having this disease. Alzheimer? s affects women more than men. Forsyth and Ritzline state that this disease has affected over 4 million people in the U. S. and the number is rising. By the middle of the twenty first century over 14 million Americans are expected to have Alzheimer? s disease.

Ten percent of the individuals who are 65 years and older have this disease or the early onsets. For individuals 85 and older, the ten percent rises to an astounding 42. 7 percent. One can see that the chance of getting this disease increases with age. Cohen and Eisdorfer say many scientists have attempted to find medications that may cure or prevent this terrible disease; however, they have not had much luck. Some medications available to Alzheimer? s victims only treat disorders like sleeping, nervousness, and anxiety.

These are called antipsychotic medications like Thorazine, Prolaxin, and H aldol. Cohen and Eisdorfer say that in addition to antipsychotic medications there are two other major categories of medications: anti-inflamitory and psychotropic. Anti-inflamitory drugs are used to reduce inflammation and can keep the healthy tissue of the brain from dying. Psychotropic drugs affect mental activity and are also used to treat behavior. ? Psychotropic? is a word that pertains only to the drugs that help influence the behavior of patients, their brain, and their emotions. Sleepiness, constipation, blurred vision, dry mouth, and bladder problems are all common side effects of people taking psychotropic drugs.

Mike Akins states cognex and aricept are both psychotropic drugs. Cognex was the first drug approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to help fight against Alzheimer? s. Cognex is taken four times a day, and its side effects are horrible compared to aricept. Aricept is a new drug recently approved by the FDA to help fight against Alzheimer? s Aricept may more commonly be called by its generic name donepezil. Aricept is only taken at bedtime. Its side affects make some people feel dizzy or light-headed.

This drug also can possibly be a big threat to patients who have certain heart conditions. Aricept threatens people because it can lower their heart rate. Aricept does have some advantages over cognex. Cognex requires liver function monitoring.

This means that blood tests have to be taken quite often. Aricept does not have to be monitored, and the side effects seem to be more tolerable than those of cognex. Both aricept and cognex make patients function intellectually about the same. Fackelmann claims that all these drugs have helped in the fight against Alzheimer? s, but recently scientists have discovered that estrogen also helps. ? Estrogen has been shown to influence several areas in the brain that are involved in cognition and behavior, ? says researcher Uriel Halbreich of the State University of New York at Buffalo. Estrogen may be the miracle drug we have been searching for in the treatment of Alzheimer? s disease.

Wilkinson says that Alzheimer? s is thought of as occurring in three stages. However, these three stages have no decisive point where one stage ends and another one starts. In the first stage, the patient is absent-minded, tired, and unresponsive. Memory loss is crucial because when it is lost, it is gone forever. The patient does not want to change clothing, return phone calls, or keep appointments. The patient also does not care anything about learning new information.

In the second stage, the patient may not be able to recognize family members, places, people, or events. He or she may not remember anything about the previous day. The patient may also begin to wander about at night while the rest of the family is sleeping. Eventually the third stage starts; by this time, the losses are very obvious.

The patient? s walking becomes difficult; he or she may fall and seriously injure himself. Short term and long term memory no longer exists, and words and sentences are repeated. He or she babbles on and at times screams, grunts, or groans. Estrogen is a body hormone all women have. Waters claims Howard Fillit was the first person to connect the benefits of estrogen with Alzheimer? s disease. Estrogen Replacement Therapy has been proved to fight against Alzheimer? s.

However, ERT does have several negative side effects such as an increase in the chances of a woman getting endometrial and breast cancer. A recent study has proved that ERT decreases the chances of getting Alzheimer? s. Waters says although estrogen may be harmful, it is far better than any other drug used to fight Alzheimer? s. Men who take estrogen can benefit the same as women. Testosterone is a normal body hormone in men.

The levels of testosterone can be increased and the benefits will be the same because the brain chemically transforms testosterone into estrogen. Waters says Howard Fillit, a specialist in geriatrics, has been studying Alzheimer? s connection with estrogen since 1984. Fillit tried to get the research world to listen to his ideas, but he was ignored. Fillit began his own study.

For six weeks he had seven women take estrogen supplements. Two patients revealed unbelievable progress. It was as though their brains suddenly became activated. Water revealed that Fillit? s results were miraculous; estrogen had given them a better attitude and an enhanced memory. Even after the study was finished, the women stayed on the estrogen at the familie? s request.

Alzheimer? s is the leading fear for women fifty years and older. They no longer fear breaking a bone or heart complications; it is whether they will lose their memories. Waters also states that Bruce McEwen, a colleague of Howard Fillit, has studied the way of estrogen affects the brain? s operation. The study of estrogen was performed on mice with outstanding results.

The enzyme level was raised exceptionally. This is great because enzymes are important in recalling information in learning. Wickelgren points out another colleague of Fillit, Victoria Line, who worked with Fillit at Rockefeller University in New York, helped find the neuron that once deteriorated caused Alzheimer? s. They found evidence that the neuron could be protected by estrogen.

Revealed in Bonn? s article, the National Institute on Aging took part in a study of approximately five hundred women, four percent of them were postmenopausal and perimenopausal. These five hundred women were observed closely for sixteen years. These statistics revealed at the end of this study showed a reduce risk of getting Alzheimer? s for the postmenopausal and perimenopausal. This risk was reduced by fifty percent. This reduction of risk was credited to the use of Estrogen for the postmenopausal and perimenopausal.

Neurologist Claudia Kaw as believes that ERT will make the neurons involved with Alzheimer? s stronger and hopefully will prevent the illness. Fackelmann says Stanford College performed a study on ERT to see how it enhances ones ability to recall. They wanted to see if it would help Alzheimer victims remember a certain word or name. Seventy-two women participated in the Stanford study. These women were aged between fifty-five and ninety-three and none of them seemed to be senile. At the beginning of the study, the women were shown six black and white photos of females.

Their names were given to the women in the study, and they had one minute to study the pictures and the corresponding names. The results of the test were quite promising because estrogen users recalled thirty-six percent of the names. The non-estrogen users only remembered twenty-six percent. Another simple test was given to these women. The women had a list of everyday words to remember. There were only sixteen words which they had four minutes to recall.

This test was not as nearly as promising as the first test. This second test showed a slightly better improvement over the non-estrogen users. The implications of this finding, if real, is tremendous? ERT may confer some protection against memory loss. There are many different types of medication that can slow down the onset of Alzheimer? s disease, but estrogen has proved to work with the best. Although ERT can be potentially harmful, the benefits definitely outweigh the cost. In the future, perhaps estrogen will be a popular household medicine.

Researchers are thrilled about this somewhat new therapy and are looking forward to more studies. Already many studies such as the ones discussed have already been performed and results are excellent. Study after study has proven how great ERT fights against Alzheimer? s. These studies are fairly accurate because of the large percentage of women who were tested. Although all of the studies were done mostly on women, estrogen can help men as well. Even though estrogen may be the miracle drug we have been searching for in the fight against Alzheimer? s, the cause of the disease is still undetermined.

Hopefully, with more research and experiments the cause of the disease will be discovered as well as a means of prevention. Much of what we know today about Alzheimer? s disease is frightening and discouraging, but there are some rays of hope in the generally bleak picture. The recognition that severe confusion and memory loss in older people are symptoms of a disease and not natural consequences of aging is a promising sign for the future. A disease can be cured or at least treated, wher as? senility? can only be accepted and lived with. If the cause of Alzheimer? s disease is eventually discovered and an effective treatment developed, then millions of older people will be able to spend the final years of their lives mentally alert, independent, and whole. Until that day comes, victims of the disease and their families deserve our understanding and deepest sympathy.

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