How is Alzheimer's map in the world and in our country? What is Alzheimer's? In which age groups is Alzheimer's more common? What are the causes of this disease and what causes it? What are the symptoms of Alzheimer's, how to understand? How does the disease progress? What to do to prevent Alzheimer's? Is there a cure for the disease? What can be said about the recently released drugs? The answers to all questions about Alzheimer's and more are provided by the President of the Alzheimer's Association of Turkey, one of the few experts on Alzheimer's in Turkey. Dr. Basar Bilgic replied.
What is the Alzheimer's Association of Turkey doing?
The answers to all these questions and more are provided by the President of the Alzheimer's Association of Turkey, one of the few experts on Alzheimer's in Turkey. Dr. Başar Bilgic made a statement. Başar Bilgiç's statements are as follows;
“There are over 700 thousand Alzheimer's patients in Turkey.”
“Our life span is getting longer, but humanity has not been able to fully adapt to it physically and mentally. Older people face many mental and physical problems. With the increase in the elderly population, Alzheimer's became more visible in the society. We have similar incidence figures with Europe. There are 1 million dementia patients in our country and 50 million worldwide, and more than half of them have Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia in the world. It is predicted that by 2050, there will be 150 million dementia patients worldwide. There are over 700 thousand Alzheimer's patients in Turkey, if we add other dementias, we are talking about 1 million people. The 70s are the age group with the most Alzheimer's. The average life expectancy in the world is getting longer and the elderly population is increasing. We, too, are one of the countries with a rapidly aging population, so this disease seems to be one of the biggest health problems of the future for us as well as for other countries.
What is Alzheimer's and how is it diagnosed?
Alzheimer's can be defined as a brain disease that gradually destroys brain tissue. For a reason that has not yet been fully resolved, brain cells die, brain tissue decreases, the vessels narrow and become clogged, and the brain begins to shrink. In an average of 10 years, the brain drops from 1,5 kg to 1,2 kg, in other words, there is a loss of 300 g. In this process, brain cells, namely neurons, decrease and mental problems arise. The patient first begins to forget events from the recent past. In the later stage, he may forget his very old memories and may not even recognize his relatives. Many findings such as orientation problems, reasoning problems, speech and gait disorders, psychiatric problems, urinary incontinence, inability to sleep are added to the forgetfulness. In the early period when forgetfulness stands out, a specialist should definitely be seen. In addition, with the latest developments, Alzheimer's can be diagnosed with blood tests and blood analysis.
How does Alzheimer's disease progress
Changes in the Alzheimer's patient's brain date back to 20 years before the onset of forgetfulness. The forgetfulness observed in Alzheimer's is different from the natural forgetfulness seen in almost everyone. The patient initially begins to forget the recent tense and may ask the same questions over and over. For example, a patient who is told "We will go to the market tomorrow afternoon" may ask repeatedly what day and what time he will go to the market because he cannot save the answer given to him in his memory. On the other hand, he can remember all the details of 40 years ago, but of course, these memories begin to disappear as the disease progresses. Orientation is affected after forgetfulness. In the beginning, the patients lost in places they did not know well, in time, they cannot even find their homes. In some cases, psychological problems occur as the disease progresses. The patient may show aggressive attitudes, jealousy and some senseless extreme reactions. In the last stage, the patient, who cannot walk, completes his life as a bedridden. This process usually covers a period of 10-15 years.
How do we protect ourselves from Alzheimer's?
According to research, the most important factor that protects from Alzheimer's is education and socialization. The higher the education level, the lower the incidence of Alzheimer's. Therefore, it is more common in rural areas where the level of education is lower. Thus, we can say that another benefit of education has emerged. According to research, sociability is a protective factor, and social relationships strengthen connections in the brain. Socially interactive occupations are more resilient. In addition, anything harmful to the heart is also a factor in Alzheimer's. In other words, we can say that protecting the heart is also a precaution for Alzheimer's. Hearing problems in middle age are also a risk for Alzheimer's. For this reason, if there is a hearing problem, this should be investigated and devices should be used if necessary. The Mediterranean diet is also protective. We should not spend our middle age as fat, physical exercises should not be neglected. Filling our free time with intellectual activities will also be protective.
The cause has not been resolved, there is no full cure yet
Alzheimer's is a deadly brain disease that cannot be cured yet, unfortunately, the knot cannot be untied because the cause of the disease is not fully understood. The older we are, the more at risk we are, but Alzheimer's cannot be defined as a natural consequence of old age, so not every aging person gets this disease, there are perfectly healthy people over the age of 100. There are studies on this subject in different countries, but the fact that the cause of the disease is not fully understood makes it difficult to find a solution. There are different opinions about the causes of the disease in academic circles. Of course, as in many diseases, intensive treatment and drug studies are carried out. It will come as no surprise that an effective treatment will be found in the coming years. Today, with current treatments, the patient can only be offered a more comfortable life and a quality disease process.
The effectiveness of Alzheimer's drugs has not been proven
Recently, an Alzheimer's drug called Aducapumab received extraordinary approval in the USA. While there is no satisfactory data, this drug, which clears the protein called amyloid accumulated in the brain, has been approved by the American Drug Authority (FDA). But the developer company of the drug was also required to demonstrate the beneficial effects of the drug in patients with scientific studies by 2030. The FDA reported that while making the decision, it is considering that patients are not deprived of a possible effective treatment because Alzheimer's is an incurable disease. However, these and similar drugs are unfortunately overpriced and this makes access to the drug very limited. If a new drug is going to be on the market for this and similar diseases that concern millions of people, it must have a reasonable price. Pharmaceutical companies also have a great responsibility in this regard.
Is Alzheimer's genetic?
Today, we know of 3 gene disorders that lead to Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's diseases due to these gene disorders account for 5 percent of the entire total. Cases related to this gene disorder manifest themselves around the age of 50, which we can call prematurely. Other than defective genes, some genes also increase the risk of dementia. There are many known genes identified in this context. There is also ongoing research on this subject.
We will be able to see the effect of the pandemic on Alzheimer's more clearly 15-20 years from now. At the beginning of the pandemic, we has isolated our elderly citizens for a long time. According to research, sociability is a serious protective factor against dementia. When you live an active social life, the cells in your brain communicate with each other more strongly. Also, people stayed away from hospitals for fear of catching Covid, which prevented early detection. Another point is that there are laboratory data that the coronavirus can trigger Alzheimer's disease in the brain. If this is true, there may be an Alzheimer's outbreak years after the pandemic.
Alzheimer's relationship with sleep
Proteins that accumulate in the brain and cause Alzheimer's are cleared while sleeping. The connection between brain cells is strengthened during sleep. A healthy sleep is very important for strong memories. Although it varies from person to person, an average of 7 hours of healthy sleep can be defined as ideal. It is a fact reflected in the research results that Alzheimer's is more common in people who have sleep problems.
Turkish Alzheimer's Association
The Alzheimer's Association of Turkey was established in 1997 with the coming together of patients' relatives and physicians. Our most important issue is to raise awareness about Alzheimer's. We would like to introduce and draw attention to this disease, which is not very well known in our society. We have created a "National Alzheimer's Strategy" by implementing many projects for Alzheimer's patients and their relatives. The "Daytime Living House" model, which we have implemented in cities such as Istanbul, Konya and Mersin, attracted a lot of attention and was even established in different cities by taking it as an example. In facilities that can be thought of as “Alzheimer's Kindergartens”, patients socialize, stay in life, and their relatives find the opportunity to rest a little. One of our goals is to bring the relatives of the patients together to inform them and to create an environment where they can share their experiences. In addition, we have recently brought together volunteer young people and patients in a virtual environment with the “Digital Grandchildren Project” under the leadership of our Izmir branch.
Alzheimer's Congress in Eskişehir on September 29
The 29th Alzheimer's Congress will be held in Eskişehir between 2 September and 12 October Thursday by the Turkish Alzheimer's Association. At the congress, scientists from abroad and from our country will share information about current developments and drug studies. Issues such as the relationship between Alzheimer's and healthy sleep, and Alzheimer's nutrition will also be discussed. Scientists will have the opportunity to share and evaluate their work related to Alzheimer's disease with each other.”
Günceleme: 09/09/2022 15:57