How does Alzheimers disease progress?
Alzheimer’s disease causes the formation of abnormal structures in the brain called plaques and tangles. As they accumulate in affected individuals, nerve cell connections are reduced. Areas of the brain that influence short-term memory tend to be affected first. Later, the disease works its way into sections of the brain that control other intellectual and physical functions. Alzheimer’s disease affects people in different ways, making it difficult for medical professionals to predict how an individual’s disease will progress. Some experts classify the disease by stage (early, middle, and late). But specific behaviors and how long they last vary greatly, even within each stage of the disease. As more is learned about the progression of the disease, new assessment scales are being developed to help physicians track, predict, and treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. • Does Alzheimer’s disease run in families? The evidence is not clear. Cases where several members of a single family ha