Healthy Living

Alzheimer's 101: Past, Present, and Future

Alzheimer's 101: Past, Present, and Future

Alzheimer's 101: Past, Present, and Future

Alzheimer’s disease is the third leading cause of death in America, just behind heart disease and cancer, and it's the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a progressive, neurological disorder that affects the patient's ability to think and remember. 

The causes of dementia vary and depend on the types of brain changes taking place. Alzheimer's is not the only form of dementia. Other forms of dementia include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal disorders, and sometimes, dementia can be a mixture of two or more forms. 

Alzheimer's and dementia are both puzzling disorders that still confound even the best researchers and doctors today. It was founded in 1906, but there is still no cure and only treatment that is meant to slow, or delay, the symptoms. 

However, from 1906 to today, there has been plenty of progress in the world of Alzheimer's disease. Here are just some of the disease's biggest milestones in the last century. 

Alzheimer's disease was founded in 1906 by Alois Alzheimer

Alzheimer's disease was founded by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1906. Dr. Alzheimer was autopsying the brain of a woman, Auguste D., who had passed away due to a strange mental illness that caused her to have memory loss, unpredictable behavior and language difficulties. When she passed away, Dr. Alzheimer examined her brain and found many abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers, which we would later call amyloid plaques and tau tangles.

After this discovery, studies on these changes in the brain continued, but this research was slow and difficult for scientists to understand. Researchers needed a tool that would help them look at the brain's cells closer. So in 1931, the electron microscope was invented by Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll, which allowed researchers to view brain cells that were magnified by 1 million times. Here on after, the research in Alzheimer's jumped ahead, because it allowed researchers to see and understand what they couldn't see before. 

Fast forward to 1968: Researchers at this time were able to measure the volume of damaged brain tissue that Alzheimer's disease caused, thanks to developments like the electron microscope. This allowed neurologists to create cognitive measurements scales to categorize the severity of Alzheimer's disease in patients.

Read on to learn more about Alzheimer's disease greatest highlights, and what's planned for the future.