Pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer’s disease is a slow, chronic, and insidious disease that works its way into its manifestations for years. It is the most common form of dementia, which is a term used for severe memory loss that will interfere with daily living (What is Alzheimer’s?). Alzheimer’s is much more than forgetting to turn off the stove after cooking, but may begin this way.

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This disease begins its progression by causing little things to slip the mind of the person suffering from the disease, and can lead to forgetting to bring in the groceries, getting lost on the way home, or even forgetting a loved one. This disease is not only hard for the patient, but can take a toll on the patient’s family and can lead to very difficult and emotional times for the family. It is extremely important to understand signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and to understand the pathophysiology behind the disease to better prepare and notice the onset of the disease in patients and loved ones alike.


The pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s is important to know so that early signs may be noticed and understood, and so that it may be treated correctly, not only medically, but therapeutically. It is known that as the body ages, the structures in the body and the functions that once worked properly may slow down or stop working as time goes on. One of the functions that begin to deteriorate with age is the blood brain barrier, which acts as a semipermeable membrane in the brain to regulate what enters and what exits the brain. It is important to regulate what comes into the brain, but issues occur more often when this barrier does not allow wastes to exit the brain. The body has ways of allowing wastes to get removed from the brain, but this will begin to deteriorate with age just as other functions deteriorate with time. The wastes staying in the brain begin to play a vital role in the onset of Alzheimer’s (Nizari, Romero, & Hawkes, 2017).

Etiology and Risk Factors

There are many risk factors that may lead to Alzheimer’s disease, and unfortunately there are very few modifiable risk factors which makes this disease very difficult to avoid. One of the main risk factors of Alzheimer’s is age. Most people with Alzheimer’s are found to be above age 65. Patients who are under age 65 and develop Alzheimer’s are diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. It is unknown why some people develop Alzheimer’s earlier than others, but it is rare (Graff-Radford, 2017). It has been found in a population based study that females are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s (Cheng,

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