Elise J. Levinoff, BSc1,2, Howard Chertkow, MD, FRCPC1,2,3
1Bloomfield Centre for Studies in Aging, Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital, McGill University
2Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University
3Division of Geriatric Medicine, Dept. of Medicine, Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, PQ.
Alzheimer disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease of elderly patients, pathologically characterized by the presence of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. This pathology occurs in the cerebral cortex, specifically within the temporal lobes, resulting in impairment in cognitive domains such as short-term memory, attention, semantics, as well as aphasia and apraxia.1 Patients also show marked changes in behaviour and are impaired in activities of daily living (ADLs). The causes of AD are unknown, but age is a major risk factor. Women are at a higher risk of developing AD, although this may be due, in part, to increased longevity. Additionally, mechanisms of neuronal injury, such as the presence of cerebral infarcts and consequences of head trauma, increase the risk of developing AD. Expression of the APOE-e4 genotype has also been associated with an increase in the risk of developing AD.1
Presently, there is no cure for AD.