Lapses in memory may occur in a normal old person, but contrary to popular belief, dementia is not an inevitable part of aging.
A specialist from Makati Medical Center sets the record straight on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Darwin A. Dasig, MD, chairperson of MakatiMed’s Neurological Sciences Department, dementia is not synonymous to Alzheimer’s disease.
“Dementia is an acquired condition causing intellectual decline in an awake person that is sustained and severe enough to cause impairment in occupational or social function,” explained. Dr. Dasig.
Dr. Dasig said there are many disorders that cause dementia. The most common cause is Alzheimer’s disease. But there are other causes, which include Vascular Dementia, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, and Frontotemporal Dementia.
On the other hand, Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Dasig said, is believed to be due to the accumulation of an abnormal protein in the brain called beta-amyloid. This brings about several other processes and mechanisms that result in progressive death and loss of brain cells.
Because this starts in an area of the brain necessary for the consolidation of memory, the earliest symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is impairment of short-term memory. But with continuous loss of cells in other parts of the brain, patients eventually experience impairment in language, orientation with surroundings, problem-solving, and behavior.
During the most advanced stage, patients with Alzheimer’s disease may be completely mute, unable to move, and become bedridden, according to Dr. Dasig.
Alzheimer’s diseases is prevalent and should be treated as a major public health issue. The 2015 World Alzheimer Report estimates one new case every three seconds worldwide, with the highest prevalence in Asia. Unfortunately, it is estimated that only one out of three patients are diagnosed properly, and a smaller number of patients receive proper treatment.
“Early diagnosis is of utmost importance for health care to be initiated earlier,” averred Dr. Dasig. “There are available effective medical and non-pharmacological treatment strategies to maintain and maximize existing functions and prevent further progression of impairment in persons with Alzheimer’s disease.”
Contact MakatiMed On-Call at (02) 8888-999, email [email protected], or visit www.makatimed.net.ph for more information.
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