• Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, responsible for at least 60% of cases.
  • It takes its name from Alois Alzheimer (1864-1915), who first described the pathology of the disease.
  • The first sign is short term memory loss. This develops to further symptoms including more severe memory problems, confusion, disorientation, personality changes and problems with language and speech.
  • AD affects the brain physically. Proteins build up in an abnormal way in the brains of those with AD. Amyloid-b deposits known as ‘plaques’ build up around brain cells, and tau ‘tangles’ form inside brain cells.
  • The result is damage to brain cells and a loss of connections between them. The brain becomes smaller than normal. The image below shows a section of a brain affected by AD next to a comparable section of a brain not damaged by AD. 
  • AD is progressive, meaning it gets worse over time. Because it develops slowly, it can often be difficult to recognise.
Macroscopic brain changes in a patient with Alzheimer's:

Picture by Professor Seth Love