Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder marked by cognitive and behavioral impairment that significantly interferes with social and occupational functioning. It is an incurable disease with a long preclinical period and progressive course. Plaques and tangles develop in the hippocampus, a structure deep in the brain that helps to encode memories, and in other areas of the cerebral cortex that are involved in thinking and decision-making. Whether plaques and tangles themselves cause Alzheimer's disease or whether they are a by-product of the Alzheimer's disease process remains unknown.
A total of 122,019 deaths from Alzheimer's disease were recorded in 2018, making it the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth leading cause of death among Americans age 65 and older.
Currently, an autopsy or brain biopsy is the only way to definitively diagnose Alzheimer's disease.
Advanced diagnostics, including blood-based biomarkers, cerebrospinal fluid testing, and PET scan testing for amyloid and tau, have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but are generally used in the research setting or tertiary care centers. The diagnosis is usually made on the basis of the history and findings on the mental status examination. Symptomatic therapies are the only treatments available for Alzheimer's disease.
Do you know key elements of this deadly condition? Test yourself with this quick quiz.
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Cite this: Fast Five Quiz: Test Your Knowledge on Key Aspects of Alzheimer's Disease - Medscape - Jan 19, 2021.