Neurological diseases essentially include disorders affecting the central nervous system (multiple sclerosis, cerebrovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, other inherited diseases or inflammatory-infectious diseases) and the peripheral nervous system (polyneuropathies, myasthenia, myopathies). The relevance of these diseases, also in relation to their social and emotional costs, is very important: only in Italy about 700,000 people have to live with Alzheimer’s disease with 8,000 new cases estimated each year.
Alzheimer’s and dementias
A percentage of people, among those suffering from dementia, estimated between 50 and 70% suffer from Alzheimer’s disease , a degenerative process that slowly and progressively destroys the brain cells. This pathology mainly affects memory and mental functions , but can cause other problems such as confusion, mood changes and spatio-temporal disorientation. a serious problem that has acquired very significant social dimensions as life expectancy grows: today it is believed that about one person out of twenty among those over 65 years is affected by Alzheimer’s disease of age and less than one person in a thousand below that age. Women are at greater risk. In an extremely limited number of families, the disease has the character of a dominant genetic disease. Furthermore, a correlation between chromosome 21 and Alzheimer’s disease has been discovered. Those with Down syndrome, caused by an abnormality of this chromosome, are therefore more likely to get sick once they reach middle age.
The initial symptoms, such as difficulty in remembering and loss of intellectual abilities, may be so slight that they go unnoticed, but as the disease progresses, they become increasingly apparent and begin to interfere with daily activities and social relationships. The practical difficulties in the most common daily taskssuch as dressing and bathing, become gradually so severe as to determine, over time, the complete dependence on others. For patients and family members it can be very useful to contact an association of patients , with whom to discuss also for indications on the practical management of the disease .
DIAGNOSIS AND PREVENTION
The diagnosis requires a neuro-radiological examination: the CT scan or a brain resonance. The most recent studies have shown that the same factors that promote cardiovascular disease also entail a greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease: obesity, high cholesterol and hypertension are risk factors that need to be very careful to avoid developing the disease.
Currently there are no drugs to treat the disease, but only some that can promote a temporary arrest of the progression of symptoms.
It is a disorder of the central nervous system characterized mainly by degeneration of some nerve cells (neurons) located in a deep area of the brain, called black substance. These cells produce a neurotransmitter called dopamine, a chemical that transmits messages to neurons in other areas of the brain and is responsible for activating a circuit that controls movement. With at least 50% reduction of dopaminergic neurons, adequate stimulation of the receptors is lacking. Parkinson’s disease occurs in the same form in both sexes and is present all over the world. Symptoms can appear at any age even if it is difficult to manifest before age 40 and is extremely rare before 20. The causes of this disease are not yet known and are still a research topic .