alzheimers disease what part of the brain is affected?

im currantly doing a dementia course

Written By Nurse007

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • colour-pink March 29, 2009, 9:39 pm

    Here is some information which i collected when i was doing a course and it also helped with my nvq.

    It also helped me to closer wo my clients who suffer with this as i have a better understanding.

    A number of changes in the brain are caused by Alzheimer's disease. To understand these changes, it is important to understand how the brain works.

    The human brain is made up of billions of neurons, or nerve cells. Neurons are responsible for enabling us to think, remember, and direct our body movement.

    Neurons: A Closer Look

    The billions of neurons in the brain send impulses, or messages, to one another. Each neuron has its own tiny branch-like structures. Some of these branches bring impulses to the neuron, while others carry impulses away from the neuron. This relaying of impulses from neuron to neuron is what makes it possible for us to carry out physical and mental tasks.

    The Plaques and Tangles of Alzheimer's Disease

    In people with Alzheimer's disease, deposits know as plaques and tangles invade the brain tissue. Some plaques and tangles develop as part of the normal aging process. But in people with Alzheimer's disease, there are many more of them.

    Plaques and tangles make it difficult for the neurons to send impulses to each other.

    The protein that makes up plaques is found in the body normally. But plaques are sticky, abnormal clusters of this protein. They are found in the spaces between the neurons, and they can disrupt the pathways that carry impulses from one neuron to the other.

    Tangles, too, are made up of a protein that is found in the body normally. But the protein looses its structure and gets "tangled" up in the process, like threads wrapped around each other. Tangles are found inside the neurons and can clog them and keep them from functioning properly. Some researchers believe that tangles damage the neurons, causing them to die.

    When neurons are clogged with tangles, and the spaces between neurons are clogged with plaques, nerve impulses cannot be sent from one neuron to the next the way they should. As a result, the brain has trouble performing some mental functions, such as remembering and thinking.

    There is currently no prevention or cure for plaques and tangles. But researchers are working very hard to understand them. And the more that is learned about them, the better the chances are that we will be able to prevent or control them in the future.

    Chemical Messengers: Their Role in Alzheimer's Disease

    Alzheimer's disease also causes changes in the brain's chemical messengers. The chemical messenger acetylcholine (uh-SEE-till-COLE-leen) is particularly important. Acetylcholine is thought to be important in the working of neurons responsible for memory, thinking, and judgment. In Alzheimer's disease, acetylcholine is broken down more quickly than usual, so that overall levels of acetylcholine are decreased. Medicines like EXELON® (rivastigmine tartrate) can increase the amount of acetylcholine in the brain by stopping it from being broken down. With more acetylcholine, the brain's cells work better, and the progression of Alzheimer's disease symptoms can be slowed.