Alzheimer’s disease in young people: causes, symptoms and treatment

Alzheimer’s disease, a devastating neurodegenerative disease for the lives of those who suffer from it and those around them, manifests itself very frequently in old age. However, this is not always the case. Although not so common, it can appear before age 65 and even in adulthood quickly. In fact, the first presentation of the disease is described in the case of a 55-year-old woman.

There is reason to believe that Alzheimer’s disease, which occurs in old age and manifests itself in adulthood, although it shares many characteristics, could in fact be variants of the same clinical entity. How does this disease appear and how to detect it in time, then?

Characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease

The aim of the article is not to make an exhaustive definition of the classic presentation of Alzheimer’s disease, but it is necessary to refresh your memory and remember which are the most characteristic symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. ‘Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease in old age

The most common clinical presentation is episodic memory loss, which is accompanied by progressive deterioration of other cognitive areas. such as voluntary movements or the ability to produce and understand language. This definition is not rigid, as many other cases present focal alteration of only one of the domains without alteration of memory. This is why when we talk about Alzheimer’s disease we are talking about a very heterogeneous set of presentations which all have the same cause.

In the brain, the formation of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles is observed. Plaques are nothing more than peptide deposits that form with aging. It is common to have these plaques even in healthy adults, but we have found more of them in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Neurofibrillary tangles, on the other hand, are conglomerates of hyperphosphorous tau proteins. Its presence in the brain is also a predictor of neurocognitive disorders.

Alzheimer’s disease in young adulthood

About 4% of patients with Alzheimer’s disease are diagnosed before the age of 65. The most common form of Alzheimer’s at a young age is not due to memory loss, but to non-amnesic syndromes. For example, visuospatial dysfunctions, apraxia, anomias, etc. Thus, we will find that executive, visuospatial and motor functions are often affected in these patients, confusing the diagnosis with other disorders.

At the level of the brain, like its major analogues, these patients also have a higher number of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. However, their location is different. In young adults who develop Alzheimer’s disease, the hippocampus is preserved and free from any damage by these deposits. Remember that the hippocampus is a cardinal point in the acquisition and retrieval of memory. This result largely explains the difference in presentation, why in the elderly if memory is affected from a good start and why in young people with Alzheimer’s disease this is rare.

Neuropathology shows that there is a higher density and a more diffuse distribution of the typical signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Structural neuroimaging studies show that the cortex is more affected than in elderly patients and also more diffuse, particularly affecting the neocortex.

In view of all this evidence, it is possible to state that if the two manifestations come under the label of Alzheimer’s disease because they meet the same diagnostic criteria, the pathological processes that young people undergo are different from those observed in older patients. The lesions are distributed differently, so we could speak of two variants of the same disease, not just a criterion of temporality.

Causes of Alzheimer’s disease in young people

In Alzheimer’s disease, which occurs at an advanced age, the disease occurs through the formation of natural deposits. The older the patient, the more likely they are to have so many waste deposits that they begin to worsen their cognitive abilities. Likewise, one’s lifestyle may or may not protect the formation of these deposits present in disease.

however, in young normal patients, this does not allow time for these deposits to form. No normal process justifies such pathological density and distribution in the brain. This is why many cases of Alzheimer’s that start at an early age are caused by mutations in genes that allow protein deposits to build up and form senile plaques.

Cases of Alzheimer’s due to genetically transmitted mutations are rare. It is believed that most cases arise through acquisition or because the genes involved are not doing their job optimally. It appears to be more the product of a set of genetic and lifestyle factors that produce oxidative stress than of a particular gene or marker. Naturally, people from families with a marked history of Alzheimer’s at a young age, if they wish can undergo a test where a marker for the presence of this genetic mutation can be found or not and if they will develop the disease.

Treatment and prognosis

The treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in young people is the same as that prescribed for the elderly, with the advantage of being able to perform more therapeutic activities. than the latter. It is very important to keep the activities of daily living as long as possible and not to stop them because you have been diagnosed. Autonomy and activities allow the individual to maintain his cognitive capacities much longer and the decline is more gradual.

Cognitive stimulation through activities that use brain functions is a good protector against disease progression. It is impossible to get rid of or stop it, so the goal is to maintain the greatest possible autonomy and the best possible quality of life for the longest period of time. It might be a good idea to make plans on how to manage life later, when one starts to depend more on others and is unable to bring up issues such as own economy, legal formalities, willpower. or his willingness to certain medical procedures to which one might be subjected later.

The prognosis for very young Alzheimer’s disease is unfavorable. These people deteriorate faster than older people, and cognitive decline is more marked and evident. However, it is important to always focus on the skills that the patient retains and can still benefit from and gain for as long as possible.

Leave a Comment