The onset and progression of Alzheimer disease


The human body is comprised of complex structures and function made from numerous cells which combine to make up tissues (Chiras, 2003). In turn, the tissues merge to form body organs which have different functions in the body all of which maintain homeostasis. Diseases and other body conditions can attack the organs leading to malfunctioning of the body.

By studying the disease process it is possible to treat or manage its effects so as to restore the normal functioning of the body. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is one of the diseases that cause disturbances to several brain functions including orientation, memory, learning capacity, calculation judgment and language. Such cognitive impairment are then accompanied by declining emotional control as well as deteriorated social behavior or control. The prevalence of AD is higher among senior citizens who are at least 65 years of age. It is a progressive disease with no known cure. At the onset the symptoms are mild but they progress as the brain is severely damaged by dead or injured neurons in the hippocampus (Duthey & Tanna, 2013).

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The aim of this paper is to discuss the onset and progression of Alzheimer disease.


Alzheimer is a chronic disease which implies that ones the symptoms starts presenting it can only be managed and not cured. The development of AD can be categorized in three stages; the early stage where symptoms are mild and occur over the first and second year, the middle stage occurs for another two years and the last stage from the fifth years.

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At the onset, symptoms such as getting lost in familiar places, forgetfulness, and difficulties in communication and mood swings may start presenting. These symptoms are often dismissed by relatives and even professionals as normal signs of aging. In the middle stage the symptoms such as forgetfulness, communication challenges, behavioral and mood changes becomes more intense. The diagnosis is thus more apparent in the middle stage. As the patient progress to the third stage they become totally dependent or inactive and the malfunction in the brain affects physical and physiological functioning such that they experience incontinence, are unable to recognize even close relatives such as their own children, they cannot eat without assistance among others.

According to Duthey & Tanna (2013), AD's pathophysiology is connected to the death or injury of neurons which initiates dysfunction of the hippocampus (involved in learning and memory). The atrophy effects then interfere with the entire brain. Neurofibrillary and sessile plagues develop in the brain causing other changes such as increased pro-inflammatory cytokines in the cerebrospinal fluids and the blood. Other changes with the Amyloid beta have also been reported.

The brain is an important organ that helps the body to maintain homeostasis. It contains billions of neurons which send millions of messages throughout the body cells. The neurons have to be kept healthy through metabolism and repair for their normal functioning. When a person has AD the metabolism and repair process are disrupted causing the neurons to die or succumb to injuries. Resultantly, some nerve cells in the brain stop functioning leading to memory failure, personality changes and other symptoms. The communication process is interfered with hence there is an imbalance in the homeostasis.


Burns (2000), states that AD's treatment is basically a two-stage process beginning with symptoms identification and isolation from other differential diagnosis and followed by identification of neuropsychiatric symptoms. Self-reports and information by close family members is important in the initial diagnostic stage. The doctor can ask question to assess thinking skills and memory of the patient. Laboratory tests such as blood s help to rule out other causes of memory loss such as thyroid disorder. A mental status exam can also be used to assess the cognitive functioning. Brain imaging such as Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Computerized tomography (CT) can help to identify the abnormalities in the brain region hence lead to a much accurate diagnosis.

Memory loss is the main symptom of AD which at the early stage presents in form of difficulties remembering recent conversations and events. Thinking and reasoning difficulties such as difficulty in multitasking even simple tasks or creating a budget is also a major symptom. The personality of the person changes and they may become more aggressive with frequent mood changes.

The main causes of the disease remain unknown. However, there are several risk factors such as increased age. For instance, for people above 85 yeas the risk of developing AD is 50%. Genetic predisposition may lead to a person getting AD before the age of 65 which is attributed to familial onset. Some of the associated gene includes Amyloid precursor protein (APP), Presenilin 1 and 2, Clusterine among others. Environmental factors associated with poor diet, other chronic diseases and body activities that cause injuries to the head can also be predisposing factors for the disease.


There is no cure for the disease. However, treatment options to manage the symptoms and keep the patient safe exist. The emotional symptoms can be suppressed by the patient prescribed antidepressant medications. There are also Alzheimer's medications that slow down memory loss including Cholinesterase inhibitors and Memantine (Namenda) Mayo Clinic, 2018). Other management includes creating a safe and supportive environment to minimize the chances of injury to the patient or loss of valuable things. Unfortunately, there is no prevention for the disease besides eating proper diet, moderate physical activities and overall self-care. Scientific evidence for prevention are not present.

The progress made in the treatment and management of AD is a clear illustration on how scientific research and knowledge comes in handy in accomplishing God's redemptive work. Already scientific work has on genetic analysis has been used in identifying the primary support for A? role in AD (Perr et al., 2008). Resultantly, the doctors can do genetic test and inform patients if they are at risk of getting AD so they can make early preparation on say their will. Also, the fact that there are medications to help with memory loss shows how God cares enough to help the patient because without memory they can get injured easily.


The body has a way of maintaining body balance but when a person develops a disease such as AD homeostasis becomes an impossibility. The disease affects the brain causing communication lapse in the body which lead to patient presenting with symptoms of memory loss, difficulties in thinking and learning among others. In most cases diagnosis is possible through self-reports and information from close relatives, lab-tests and brain imaging. After a confirmed diagnosis healthcare providers can help the patient to manage the symptoms through medicates and creating a safe and enabling environment for the patient which increases their quality of life.


  • Burns A. (2000). Diagnosis and management of Alzheimer's disease. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 2(2), 129-138.
  • Chiras, D. D. (2003). Human body systems: Structure, function, and environment. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett.
  • Duthey, B.& Tanna, S. (February, 2013). Background Paper 6.11 Alzheimer Disease and other Dementias. Priority Medicines for Europe and the World.
  • Mayo Clinic. (2018, December 08). Alzheimer's disease. Retrieved June 24, 2019, from treatment/drc-20350453
  • Perry, G., Castellani, R. J., Moreira, P. I., Lee, H. G., Zhu, X., & Smith, M. A. (2008). Open Commentary Pathology's New Role: Defining Disease Process and Protective Responses. Int J Clin Exp Pathol, 1(1), 1-4.
Updated: May 21, 2021
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The onset and progression of Alzheimer disease. (2019, Dec 01). Retrieved from

The onset and progression of Alzheimer disease essay
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