Alzheimer's disease is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that causes cognitive decline and dementia, eventually leading to death. In 2019, 5.8 million Americans suffered from the disease at a frequency of 1 in every 10 individuals older than 65 years. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by amyloid-β protein plaques built up in the spaces between neurons, and tangles of tau protein inside the cells of brain tissue.
- There is no cure, so the disease is fatal, although some drugs slow cognitive decline.
- Average survival is 4 to 8 years after diagnosis.
- Around 5% of cases are inherited, occurring earlier in life, caused by single gene mutations. The other 95% of cases are not inherited and develop later in life.
- The cause and mechanism of Alzheimer's disease remains unknown.