Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Alzheimer Disease

Or presenile dementia, socalled by Alois Alzheimer in 1907 when he described a disability that affected the middle-aged and elderly; a progressive form of mental disease occurring in middle age or later, characterized by intellectual deficit and los of short-term memory. AD is with characteristic changes in and near nerve cells, and with an increase in the amounts of certain gummy brain proteins, the beta- and tau-amyloids. Intraneuronal tangles of neurofibrils are also a feature. At least eight variants have been mapped to various human chromosomes. AD is twice as common in women as in men, and (in 2003) is the fourth leading cause of death in American adults. A clinical variant, familial Alzheimer disease (FAD), early onset, manifests in the fifth or later decades of life, but only 5-10% of Alzheimer cases are inherited. Aka Alzheimer’s dementia, presenile dementia.

Cf. Parkinson disease.

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