The Alzheimer young is characterized by the onset of symptoms at an age between 40 and 60 years: memory loss, not remembering names, difficulty oriented, praxis, gnosis and loss of executive functions.
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that is associated with advanced ages and is considered a pathology of onset in old age.
However, this is not quite so, since Alzheimer’s can begin to develop in the brain of an individual in much earlier stages.
Thus, in some cases it can be observed how this neurodegenerative disease can begin to manifest itself during youth and early stages of adulthood.
These discoveries open a line of research into both the pathogenesis and the treatment of Alzheimer’s that are highly interesting and have a high scientific potential.
Alzheimer’s in Young People
In this article we will talk about Alzheimer’s in young people in order to understand a little better the complexities of this disease and to delimit what are the neurodegenerative signs that can appear in these first stages.
In this way we will make a special emphasis between the onset of Alzheimer’s and the moment in which this disease is diagnosed, which, as we will see below, are not comparable concepts.
That is, Alzheimer’s disease does not always begin when the symptoms necessary for its diagnosis are present, but in many cases the prototypical brain deterioration of this disease can be initiated earlier.
What is Alzheimer’s?
The Alzheimer or rather, Alzheimer’s disease, is best known neurodegenerative disorder.
This first assessment of what Alzheimer’s disease is already clarifies many of the characteristics of this pathology.
That is, the fact that Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease informs us that it consists of a pathology that is degenerating brain functions.
In fact, Alzheimer’s disease is the prototype of cortical dementias and is characterized by an early deterioration of episodic memory.
However, the mental deterioration produced by Alzheimer’s is not limited to its most prototypical dysfunction (memory), but extends to all other functions performed by the brain.
Thus, Alzheimer’s disease is an acquired and prolonged alteration of several cognitive (mental) functions to a degree that makes normal daily activities difficult.
Speaking of acquired impairment is especially relevant, since it means that the disease occurs at a time in life in which cognitive functions have already developed.
In this way, people who suffer from this disease have a normal and healthy development of their mental functions, however, there comes a time when they begin to deteriorate.
Likewise, this mental deterioration is characterized by being prolonged and chronic, that is to say, from the moment that the disease begins to be objectified, the alterations no longer disappear (there is no recovery from deterioration) and these progress until the brain completely degenerates.
Thus, Alzheimer’s differs from transient acute processes in which cognitive impairment can occur temporarily, but in which the person regains his mental functions later.
In addition, when we talk about Alzheimer’s we speak of an intense affectation of the cognitive functions and for that reason it must interfere in the autonomy of the person who suffers it.
What are the characteristics of Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease begins with a degeneration of the areas of the brain that are responsible for memory processes, thus, the first symptoms and the most popular manifestations of the disease are mnemonic failures and frequent forgetting.
However, as we have pointed out, the deterioration of the brain that produces this disease is progressive and chronic, so that the degeneration is expanding and gradually affects all areas of the brain.
In this way, subsequent to the memory failures, other cognitive deficits begin to appear, until the mental functioning is totally affected.
The main symptoms of the disease are:
- Memory: it is the main symptom of the disease, at first a certain difficulty can appear to remember recent things or to learn new things, later the deficit is extended until it affects all kinds of memory and memories.
- Language: one of the typical symptoms of the disease is not remembering the name of certain words, likewise, later you can lose all the language and all the verbal skills.
- Orientation: the person with Alzheimer’s usually has great difficulties to orient himself in unknown places, later he will also be unable to orient himself in known places and lose his temporary and personal orientation.
- Praxias: in Alzheimer’s disease the ability to perform the motor movements necessary to perform an action is lost (for example, picking up a fork to eat), so that the person loses his or her functionality and autonomy.
- Gnosias: the disease affects the ability to recognize external aspects, in this way, a person with Alzheimer’s may be unable to recognize objects or even the faces of relatives or acquaintances.
- Executive functions: finally, Alzheimer’s deteriorates the capacity of sequencing, that is, to know what steps have to be taken to carry out a certain action (for example, frying some fried eggs).
Finally, cognitive deterioration can be much greater at the end of the disease, at which time the person may even lose the ability to walk, talk or eat completely.
As we see, the main symptoms of Alzheimer’s make us think of a disease in which the person is highly deteriorated and affected by the degeneration of his brain.
In addition, these typical symptoms of Alzheimer’s occur during old age, that is, young people and adults do not have Alzheimer’s itself, since this disease begins to connote about 65 years.
However, as we remarked at the beginning of the article, does this mean that the disease always begins at this time?
The answer to this question is no, that is, Alzheimer’s can begin long before the presentation of typical symptoms.
In this way, it is understood that the brain development typical of the disease can be initiated before the onset of mental failures.
That is, the disease can start during youth but not manifest until years later with the typical symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
In this way, there is a certain overlap between the diagnosis of neurodegenerative pathology and its onset, since the criteria for detecting the presence of Alzheimer’s disease are usually not met at the onset of the disease.
This fact is mainly explained because the onset of Alzheimer’s in young people is asymptomatic, that is, it does not present symptoms that can be observed in the functioning of the person.
However, to leave a little more doubts in the next two sections we will discuss in more detail the characteristics of the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and the characteristics of the onset of the disease.
When is Alzheimer’s diagnosed?
The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is typical of Dementia, or the diagnosis of Dementia is typical of Alzheimer’s.
In short, to diagnose Alzheimer’s or Dementia (which have the same diagnostic criteria) should be objectified a series of cognitive dysfunctions determined and for a period of time.
Before debating the effectiveness or usefulness of these criteria, we will review them.
The symptoms that must be presented to make a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia are:
A. The presence of multiple cognitive deficits is manifested by:
- memory impairment (impairment of the ability to learn new information or recall previously learned information) (2) one (or more) of the following cognitive impairments:
- aphasia (language impairment) (b) apraxia (impairment of ability to perform motor activities, even though motor function is intact)
- agnosia (failure to recognize or identify objects, even though the sensory function is intact) (d) alteration of the execution (eg, planning, organization, sequencing and abstraction)
B. The cognitive deficits in each of the A1 and A2 criteria cause a significant deterioration in work or social activity and represent a significant reduction in the previous level of activity.
C. The course is characterized by a gradual onset and continuous cognitive decline.
D. The cognitive deficits of Criteria A1 and A2 are not due to any of the following factors:
- other diseases of the central nervous system that cause memory and cognitive deficits (eg, cerebrovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s chorea, subdural hematoma, normotensive hydrocephalus, brain tumor)
- systemic diseases that can cause dementia (eg, hypothyroidism, folic acid deficiency, vitamin B12 and niacin, hypercalcemia, neurosyphilis, HIV infection)
- diseases induced by substances
E. Deficits do not appear exclusively during the course of a delirium.
F. The disturbance is not better explained by the presence of another Axis I disorder (eg, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia.
As we can see, in order to diagnose an Alzheimer’s Dementia, most of the typical symptoms of the disease that we have mentioned previously must be given.
However, this world-wide diagnosis is useful to determine the presence of a dementing syndrome but not the presence of Alzheimer’s disease.
That is to say, the Alzheimer’s disease debuts long before arriving to present the necessary symptoms for the diagnosis that we have just mentioned.
In this way, when the criteria for diagnosing the disease are met, it has been present in the person’s brain for some time, but it has not yet manifested itself through its typical symptoms.
In this way, it is very difficult to detect an Alzheimer’s disease during youth, since there are no symptoms to identify it.
However, this does not mean that Alzheimer’s can not exist during the first stages of life and that it can develop until Alzheimer’s dementia like the one we have just discussed.
When does the disease start?
As we have said, the onset of Alzheimer’s is asymptomatic, so it is practically impossible to detect this disease in its pure debut and, therefore, during youth.
However, a study called “Clinical and Biomarker Changes in Dominantly Inherited Alzhiemr’s Disease” published in The New England Journal of Medicine has presented a series of changes in the neurological processes of Alzheimer’s that are present in the brain before the onset of symptoms. the illness.
These neurological changes can be observed in cases of Alzheimer’s only hereditary, and as in many cases of this disease are present other factors, these findings would be verified in approximately 10% of all cases of Alzheimer’s.
However, this discovery constitutes a great advance in the knowledge of the disease and in the preparation of treatments and preventive interventions that can be investigated for the cure of Alzheimer’s.
In this way, the main characteristics that have been connoted in an apparently healthy and young brain but that will end up presenting symptoms of Alzheimer’s over the years are:
- Decrease in the levels of a protein known as beta amyloid in the cerebrospinal fluid of the brain. This process can be detected up to 24 years before the onset of memory loss.
- Increased levels of another protein called TAU that is present in most brain neurons. This functional alteration can be observed 15 years before the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms.
- Reduction of glucose consumption in brain activity, as well as slight memory problems in certain areas of the cerebral cortex.
Thus, these discoveries reveal what we were talking about at the onset of the disease: Alzheimer’s can debut in the brain long before the onset of its symptoms.
Knowing and expanding research in this line can be essential to find techniques for early detection of Alzheimer’s and make preventive treatments that can stop the evolution of the disease and therefore the onset of dementia symptoms.