The burden of dementia: A medical and research perspective

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 20 (1):3-13 (1999)
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Alzheimer's disease remains the most common form of dementia. Dementia symptoms vary depending on individual personality, life experience, and social and cultural influences. As dementia progresses, involvement of multi-disciplinary health care professionals is needed to manage the disease. Alzheimer research is progressing rapidly. While 5% of all Alzheimer's disease may be genetically determined, the majority is not. Susceptibility genes can reveal the risk of contracting Alzheimer's disease. Early life risk factors such as education, nutrition, and vascular disease may increase the likelihood of dementia in later life. In the United States, two acetylcholinesterase inhibitors have been approved as cognitive enhancers. Possible prevention and symptomatic treatment interventions have focused on estrogen replacement therapy, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory medications. Research advances have improved the clinical management of dementia. Ethical implications to the patient, family, and society are multiple and remain challenging



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