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Alzheimer’s Disease Explained

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Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder. The death of brain cells cause memory loss and cognitive decline. A neurodegenerative type of dementia, the disease starts mild and gets progressively worse.

What causes Alzheimer’s?

Like all types of dementia, Alzheimer’s is caused by brain cell death. It’s a neurodegenerative disease, which means there is progressive brain cell death that happens over a course of time.

The total brain size shrinks with Alzheimer’s – the tissue has progressively fewer nerve cells and connections.

Nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. In Alzheimer’s, there are microscopic ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’ between and within brain cells.

While they cannot be seen or tested in the living brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease, postmortem/autopsy will always show tiny inclusions in the nerve tissue, called plaques and tangles:

  • Plaques are found between the dying cells in the brain – from the build-up of a protein called beta-amyloid (you may hear the term “amyloid plaques”).
  • The tangles are within the brain neurons – from a disintegration of another protein, called tau.


  • Worsened ability to take in and remember new information
  • Impairments to reasoning, complex tasking, exercising judgment
  • Impaired visuospatial abilities (but not, for example, due to eye sight problems)
  • Impaired speaking, reading and writing:
  • Changes in personality and behavior, for example:

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