Oh I forgot again!” when you say 'Am I getting Alzheimer's?' If the question comes to your mind, don't answer 'yes' right away. Even though Alzheimer's disease is associated with forgetfulness, there are many different symptoms… Increasingly forgetting everything makes your loved ones sad more than the patient, of course! It is emotionally devastating for a mother not to know her child, to never remember her memories, to erase the past that made us who we are. Knowing that there are 600 thousand patients in Turkey alone, and when the families of the patients are considered, we see numbers exceeding the millions affected by this disease. Moreover, since there is no full cure, hopes are dwindling. But science is working hard to turn this situation in favor of patients, and there are new promising developments! Noting that a chemical substance called acetylcholine, which provides communication between nerve cells, decreases in the brain of Alzheimer's patients, Acıbadem Taksim Hospital Neurology Specialist Dr. Professor Mustafa Seçkin said, “A symptomatic improvement can be achieved with the use of drugs that help increase the level of acetylcholine in the brain, especially in the early stages of the disease. In fact, a new drug that promises to slow disease progression beyond symptomatic relief has recently received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These and similar drugs will be used after certain stages,” he says.
Watch out for these symptoms!
Alzheimer's disease is a common disease nowadays and therefore known to the public. As there are more and more elderly people in the world, the incidence of this disease is also increasing. In an insidious disease, forgetfulness is one of the most important symptoms, but this forgetfulness must be in a way that negatively affects daily life. It also brings with it difficulties in planning and calculation, confusion of time and space, difficulty in perceiving images, and weakness in speaking and understanding.
Manifested by cognitive impairment
The Turkish Alzheimer's Association data shows that there are over 600 thousand Alzheimer's patients in our country. Noting that one out of every five people over the age of 60 has symptoms of mild cognitive impairment, which is considered to be the precursor of the disease, Neurology Specialist Dr. Professor Mustafa Seçkin warns, “If the necessary precautions are not taken, this mild cognitive impairment can turn into Alzheimer's disease in a five-year follow-up.”
Annual cognitive examination over 65 years of age
Noting that the biological findings of Alzheimer's disease began to emerge almost 20 years before the diagnosis, Dr. Faculty Member Mustafa Seçkin said, “The American Academy of Neurology recommends annual cognitive examinations of individuals over the age of 65. With these examinations, clinical measurements of the deterioration in cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, executive functions, language and visual-spatial functions can be made in patients.” Regular testing and examination of tests that measure the levels of certain vitamins, hormones and minerals that are vital for brain functions are necessary to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
If those proteins are detected in the brain…
How is the definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease made? It is known that a chemical substance in the brain called acetylcholine, which provides communication between nerve cells, decreases in Alzheimer's. Abnormal amyloid and tau proteins that cause the disease can be detected by biochemical and imaging methods. These abnormal proteins can be seen with the cerebrospinal fluid examination performed by taking fluid from the waist of the patients. However, in addition to taking a fluid sample from the waist, amyloid accumulated in the brain can be visualized and detected with positron emission tomography (PET), a new generation imaging method.
Working on new drugs
Although the treatment of Alzheimer's disease is of great importance because it causes progressive damage, there is still no drug that can provide a complete cure. “The drugs we have are helping to correct the existing symptoms rather than changing the course of the disease,” said Dr. Faculty Member Mustafa Seçkin states that some ongoing clinical studies are currently working on new generation drugs aimed at preventing the formation of Alzheimer's disease and slowing its progression. A drug that has recently been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to enter widespread use. However, the drugs will be used in Alzheimer's patients with a definitive diagnosis.
In addition to early diagnosis…
Early diagnosis is important in correcting the causes that accelerate the nerve damage process such as sleep disorder, malnutrition, sedentary life, depression, anxiety disorder, as well as the use of new generation drugs in the right patient. Pointing out that exercise therapy has an important place in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, Dr. Professor Mustafa Seçkin provides information that "Studies show that physical exercise causes an increase in neurotrophic factors that accelerate the repair process in the brain, reduces the aging rate of the brain and slows down the pathological process in Alzheimer's disease."
Stating that a chemical substance called acetylcholine, which provides communication between nerve cells, decreases in the brain in Alzheimer's disease, Dr. Professor Mustafa Seçkin said, “A symptomatic improvement can be achieved with the use of drugs that help increase the level of acetylcholine in the brain, especially in the early stages of the disease. In addition, increasing sleep quality with the use of melatonin when necessary helps to naturally clear and remove abnormal amyloid from the brain.
If you're having trouble finishing your work, watch out!
Alzheimer's disease shows individual symptoms. For this reason, recommending people who feel a decrease in memory level to consult a doctor, Dr. Lecturer Mustafa Seçkin says: “Forgetting the key or phone while leaving the house can happen to anyone. However, these symptoms should not be neglected if they have become more frequent, if it takes longer for us to finish a job that we used to complete faster, if we have difficulty in following the invoices. In addition, it should not be forgotten that Alzheimer's disease and similar neurodegenerative processes underlie an important part of psychiatric symptoms such as mood disorders such as depression, anxiety disorder, impulse disorder, delusional thinking, audio-visual hallucinations, behavior and personality changes that increase with aging.