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Neurodegenerative diseases are a broad and diverse group of diseases. They lose nerve cells (neurons). This article is about your brain functions
Neurodegenerative diseases are a broad and diverse group of diseases. They cause the loss of nerve cells (neurons), which involve the following interconnected processes:

  • apoptosis (programmed cell death)
  • accumulation of pathological (disease) proteins
  • Oxidative stress (overproduction of free oxygen radicals) is involve in damaging proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids in the body.
  • Genetic mutations (changes in genetic information)

In some diseases, heredity has been prove; in others, it is a genetic predisposition (susceptibility), which can be influence by external influences. Some influences (repeated brain injuries, intoxication, excessive use of alcohol, or addictive substances) are so strong that they themselves trigger the process of neurodegeneration (loss of neurons).

The incidence of these diseases is increasing dramatically due to more accurate diagnosis and a longer life expectancy. Older age is the biggest risk factor for these diseases.

Other factors are:

  • smoking
  • frequent alcohol consumption
  • cardiovascular disease
  • increased blood sugar and cholesterol levels
  • insufficient nutrition

If we want to prevent these diseases, it is advisable to avoid the mentioned external influences and risk factors.

Speeches include

  • momentum disorders
  • disorders of cognitive functions (memory, attention, information processing speed, speech, spatial orientation and others)
  • behavioral disorders.

According to the manifestations at the beginning of the disease, neurodegenerative diseases can be divide into two groups:

Movement disorder disease 

  • Parkinson’s disease (PN), which is manifested by tremors, muscle stiffness of the whole body, balance disorders, an inability to walk, and later cognitive impairment, may be added.
  • Multisystem atrophy (MSA) has similar symptoms to PN, with a more pronounced impairment of balance and coordination, orthostatic hypotension (a drop in blood pressure upon standing up), and disorders of urination, defecation, and sexual function.
  • Wilson’s disease is cause by an abnormal accumulation of copper in some organs, which causes liver cell damage, central nervous system dysfunction, and hemolytic anemia (the bone marrow is unable to compensate for the increased destruction of red blood cells).
  • Huntington’s disease is a hereditary disease characterised by uncoordinated jerky movements of the body and gradually developing behavioural and cognitive disorders.
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), in which there is gradual muscle weakness and atrophy (loss of muscle tissue) leading to gradual paralysis of the entire body, including respiratory muscles, while maintaining cognitive functions

Illness with impaired cognitive functions

  • Alzheimer’s disease, in which cognitive functions (thinking, memory, and judgement) are impaired,
  • Mild cognitive impairment is a mild impairment of memory or cognitive functions (for example, concentration, decision-making, or orientation).
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies is dementia with movement difficulties, as in PN, and visual hallucinations (the patient sees what is not there).
  • Corticobasal degeneration is a rare disease in which the patient suffers from involuntary movements with disorders of cognitive functions such as memory disorders, spatial orientation, apraxia (inability to perform coordinated, purposeful, and learned movements despite the fact that the patient has the physical ability to perform such actions and wants to perform them), and mood disorders.
  • Frontotemporal dementia, in which personality and behaviour disorders and speech disorders develop early, followed by disorders of other cognitive functions.

The treatment is symptomatic; it affects the symptoms but unfortunately does not solve the cause of the disease.

The most common neurodegenerative disease is Alzheimer’s disease. The disease begins with impairment of episodic memory (information about who, what, when, and where). Storing memories in memory (implantability) and recalling certain memory traces (retrieval) are impaired. Memory for events in the distant past (stories from youth) is better than memory for events in the recent past (what was for lunch yesterday).

Memory problems gradually worsen, and disorders of other cognitive functions are added: speech and communication disorders, orientation disorders (inability to recognise places and people), and disorders of planning and social interactions. With increasing difficulties, there is a gradual loss of self-sufficiency. Late manifestations include behavioural, mood, and personality disorders. Patients live 7–10 years from the first symptoms.

Memory tests are used in diagnostics

  • screening (e.g., a mini mental state examination), determining whether the patient suffers from memory impairment,
  • neuropsychological tests performed by a clinical psychologist who will determine what kind of memory disorder the patient is suffering from.

An important part is brain imaging (CT, MR), which excludes other causes of the disease and can reveal signs typical of this disease. Furthermore, the diagnosis can be confirmed by examining the cerebrospinal fluid.

If you have any suspicions that your brain is not working as it should, contact our doctors, who will be happy to advise you on how to take care of your brain.

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