Healthy Living

Alzheimer's 101: Past, Present, and Future

Researchers understand that Alzheimer's involves certain changes in the brain, like amyloid beta plaques and tau tangles

To this day, the plaques and tangles in the brain are still the main features of Alzheimer’s disease. Another symptom of the disease is the loss of connections between nerve cells or neurons in the brain. Neurons are the transmitters of messages between different parts of the brain and from the brain to the organs and muscles in the body.

Studies continue to unravel the brain changes that are involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s. Research shows that it is likely that damage to the brain starts at least a decade before memory and other problems become apparent. During the preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, you remain symptom-free, but there are subtle and terrible changes taking place in the brain.

Alzheimer’s begins with abnormal deposits of proteins that form amyloid plaques and tau tangles. Neurons lose communication with other neurons, and they begin to die slowly.

Damage and neuron death first begins in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is essential in forming and keeping memories. As neurons die, different parts of the brain are affected, and these parts begin to shrink. In the final stage of Alzheimer’s, the damage is throughout the entire the brain.