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Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. It occurs more frequently after the age of 65 and affects women more often.

Like all forms of dementia, it leads to a progressive decay of cognitive functions, starting with memory.

Causes are still unknown, although a number of factors have been identified that increase the risk of developing the disease: old age, family history, head trauma, lifestyle and conditions involving blood vessel problems.

According to the World Health Organisation, about 35.6 million people worldwide suffer from dementia. Of these, 60-70% (between 21 and 25 million) suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Also, in Italy the pathology has relevant dimensions: according to ISTAT, about 1 million Italians are affected by this disease.

Most of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are similar or equal to those of other forms of dementia, their progression is usually slow and can take many years.

There are generally three stages of the disease:

Mild Alzheimer's disease: the most common symptoms in the early stages of the disease's development are memory loss, mood swings, speech problems. This is because the first areas of the brain to deteriorate are those that control memory and speech.

Moderate Alzheimer's disease: as the disease progresses, disorientation, difficulty in orienting oneself in space, vision problems, hallucinations, obsessive and repetitive behaviour, sleep disorders, incontinence may appear. In this phase the symptom most typically associated with Alzheimer's appears: short-term memory loss.

Severe Alzheimer's: in the more advanced phase of the disease the symptoms that previously appeared become more pronounced. In addition, there may be difficulties in swallowing, difficulty in movement, loss of weight and appetite, and increased sensitivity to infection.

To date there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. However, drugs are available that can alleviate the symptoms and, in some cases, slow down the progression of the disease.

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