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Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease accounts for approximately 60% of all cases of dementia. The disease typically begins with memory loss, mood swings, and with problems finding the correct words. Later the individual may become more confused, experience mood swings and feelings of sadness or anger. They may feel scared and frustrated and also lose their confidence and interest in life.

The cells, nerves and transmitters in the brain are attacked during the course of the disease, the brain shrinks and gaps develop. After death, tangled loops and coils of a fibre-like material of beta-amyloid protein, can be observed in brain tissue.

People with Alzheimer's also have a shortage of certain chemicals in their brain which are involved with the communication of messages within the brain.

Most cases of Alzheimer's develop in later life. Below the age of 65 it is rare, affecting approximately one person in 1000. Over the age of 65 it affects one in 20. By the age of 80 approximately 1 in 5 are affected. Alzheimer's disease affects around 500,000 people in the UK.