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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Alzheimer disease

*

* Not a rare disease

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Overview

Alzheimer disease (AD) is a degenerative disease of the brain that causes gradual loss of memory, judgment, and the ability to function socially. Alzheimer disease currently affects about 5 million people.[1] About 75 percent of Alzheimer disease cases are classified as sporadic, which means they occur in people with no history of the disorder in their family. Although the cause of these cases is unknown, genetic changes are likely to play a role. Virtually all sporadic cases of Alzheimer disease begin after age 65, and the risk of developing this condition increases as a person gets older.[2]

AD can be subdivided into two groups based on the age of onset:[3]
(1) Early-onset (1%-6% of the cases) which start in people younger than 60- 65 years of age
(2) Late-onset, which starts in people older than 65 years old.

In about 25% of cases, AD is familial (2 or more people in a family have AD). For more information, please visit GARD's familial Alzheimer disease Web page.
Last updated: 11/2/2015

References

  1. Alzheimer Disease. Genetics Home Reference. May, 2013; http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition=alzheimerdisease. Accessed 9/30/2015.
  2. Alzheimer's Facts and Figures. Alzheimer's association. 2015; http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_figures.asp. Accessed 9/30/2015.
  3. Alzheimer Disease Overview. GeneReviews. September 24, 2015; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1161/. Accessed 9/30/2015.
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Basic Information

  • Genetics Home Reference (GHR) contains information on Alzheimer disease. This website is maintained by the National Library of Medicine.
  • Mayo Clinic has an information page on Alzheimer disease.
  • The National Institute on Aging (NIA) leads a national program of research on the biomedical, social, and behavioral aspects of the aging process; the prevention of age-related diseases and disabilities; and the promotion of a better quality of life for all older Americans. Click on the link to view information on this topic. 
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has developed a fact sheet on Alzheimer's disease.  To view this fact sheet, click on the link above.

In Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Alzheimer disease. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.