what is dementia

What is dementia? It?s not a disease itself, but is rather a term used to describe memory loss and problems with thinking that are severe enough to have an impact on your day-to-day life.

Dementia encompasses several different conditions. The most common form, which affects up to 80 percent of people with dementia, is Alzheimer?s disease. In Alzheimer?s, abnormal proteins called beta-amyloid and tau build up in the brain and destroy nerve cells, leading to memory loss, loss of judgment, and other symptoms of the condition.

Vascular dementia stems from blocked or bleeding blood vessels in the brain, which can be due to a stroke. A lack of blood flow eventually damages brain cells.

What is dementia with Lewy bodies? It begins when a protein called alpha-synuclein clumps together in the brain and causes damage. When the different forms of dementia occur together, they are called mixed dementia.

No single test can determine with any certainty whether someone has dementia. Diagnosis involves several different examinations and tests, including a health history, physical exam, neurological tests, brain imaging, blood tests, and tests of mental status.

While there currently is no cure for Alzheimer?s or other forms of dementia, treatments can address symptoms and help people live better with the disease. Some drugs target the irritability and moodiness that can accompany dementia. Other medicines improve sleep, which becomes more difficult as dementia progresses. Two types of drugs?cholinesterase inhibitors (Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne) and memantine (Namenda)?can slow memory loss from Alzheimer?s disease, although they can?t halt it entirely.

Researchers are currently trying to develop drugs that will prevent the damaging proteins that cause dementia from forming, or clear up proteins that have already formed. These and other therapies offer hope for a more effective dementia treatment, or one day, a cure.

Nutrients That May Help Lower Your Blood Pressure

Fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains and low-fat/fat-free dairy products, are cornerstones of the heart- and blood-pressure-friendly DASH diet. Not only are they generally low in sodium, but many of them are good sources of other nutrients that are associated with lower blood pressure:

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8 Dietary Supplements for Arthritis

Alternative treatment options can be a good adjunct to medication when it comes to managing arthritis symptoms. Some of the options address physical causes of pain, but don’t forget that chronic pain is complicated.

In arthritis, tissue inflammation, bone erosion, and nerve impingement can combine to “rewire” your nervous system, making … Read More

Lower Your Cholesterol With These Healthy Foods

There are several reasons why certain foods are good for your cholesterol and your heart health. Some have direct effects on reducing LDL and/or triglycerides. Others are more filling and, if they’re low in calories, will help with weight loss. Plus, by filling up on these healthier options, you’re not … Read More

3 Signs That Your Core Muscles Need Work

The “abs” get most of the attention in advertisements for strength devices, and a big waist is something almost everyone tries to avoid. But the first sign of  weak core muscles is poor posture—both standing and sitting. Other signs are back pain and muscle weakness.

Poor Posture

The American Physical Therapy Association … Read More

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