Almost all of us are or will be affected by Alzheimer’s disease, either directly or indirectly. The main symptom of Alzheimer’s, dementia, which is characterized by severe loss of mental capacity and change of personality, makes it tough for friends and family to cope with. Signs of dementia typically arise from people of older age. It is estimated that 1 in 20 people between the ages of 70 to 79 are affected by dementia. The odds increase for people between 80 and 89 to 1 in 6. For people who are over 90, the odds are 1 in 3.
Alzheimer’s is a disease in which the brain cells degenerate over time due to various processes. Just like there are stages in cancer, there are stages in Alzheimer’s. Dementia in a patient can progress over time into something more severe. It can begin as something like forgetfulness, but other symptoms arise as Alzheimer’s progresses. The patient’s short term memory becomes a lot worse. Their orientation of time and space become skewed. As a result, they do not have a firm grasp on understanding certain processes and assessing situations. The patient can also suffer from change of personality, restlessness, depression, and see hallucinations as the disease progresses.
Is there a cure for Alzheimer’s disease? The answer is not really. Although scientific advances have been made, there is much left to be learned on how exactly Alzheimer’s works. Treatments for this disease are very limited and there is no real cure. One study tested the effects of Ginkgo biloba. The trials were ran as double blind experiments with participants that were between the ages of 65 and 78. The tests were designed in general, to test people’s ability to remember things and if they were able to carry out daily activities. All in all, the people that took the 240 mg dosage of Ginkgo showed signs of improvement. The trials also indicated that it could reduce psychological related symptoms and improve the ability for people to remember things.
The downside of this experiment is not all people showed the same amount of improvements so it is still not certain how many people could benefit from Ginkgo or how strong its effect on Alzheimer’s patients is. Also, it is not well known how this plant reacts with other medications. Studies on Ginkgo biloba is still in its infancy stage but so far there is potential for this drug to play a significant role in treating Alzheimer’s patients.
Other drugs set out to reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s. The drug called memantine aims to prevent of a substance called glutamate from further damaging the brain. Glutamate is an important substance that carries out nerve signals and assists us in remembering things. People with Alzheimer’s disease however, have a permanent excess of this substance, which causes their nerve cells to die. Memantine helps by trying to prevent this process from happening without interrupting the normal transmissions of nerve cells.
To assess if memantine is effective in delaying the deterioration of certain abilities in Alzheimer’s patients, researchers set out to do an experiment. The researchers set out to do trials involving 2,300 participants. Their ages ranged from 72 to 85 years old. The researchers wanted to observe if memantine had any effect on the abilities important in everyday life, mental performance, and psychological symptoms.
What researchers found out was the abilities important for everyday life got worse for the participants regardless of taking memantine or not. There is evidence however, that memantine can delay this process. There is some evidence that shows that this drug can delay the deterioration to remember particular things or to learn something new. One in ten people who have taken memantine in a period of 6 months showed signs that their mental deterioration had slowed.
The downside of memantine is too little is known about this drug to know its true potential. Since none of the participants were tested for