Alzheimer’s becoming disease of the young?

The most prevalent kind of dementia, Alzheimer's, causes the brain to shrink and eventually kills off brain cells.

While Alzheimer’s disease has long been recognised to affect the elderly, Chinese researchers recently reported that the youngest patient, a 19-year-old kid, has the condition. Doctors asserted on Monday that the ailment may be more prevalent among children due to faulty DNA.

The most prevalent kind of dementia, Alzheimer’s, causes the brain to shrink and eventually kills off brain cells. Memory, reasoning, and behaviour are all known to be significantly impacted by the condition.

While early onset of Alzheimer’s has been seen beginning in the 30s, normal onset of the disease is in the middle of one’s 60s. The youngest person with Alzheimer’s disease known to have been diagnosed was a 21-year-old who had a gene mutation.

But, a 19-year-old kid in China was revealed to have “probable” Alzheimer’s disease, in the study which was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

While the precise cause of his illness is still unknown, experts from Beijing’s Xuanwu Hospital of Capital Medical University claimed he began exhibiting memory loss, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, and hippocampus atrophy, a shrinking that is an early sign of the illness, since he was 17 years old.

“Alzheimer’s disease can become more common with the younger population due to genes,” said Dr. Atul Prasad, Principal Director & HOD Neurology, BLK Max Super Speciality Hospital, who spoke to IANS.

He added, “It entirely depends on the quality of genes. It can lead to manifestation of the disease in early ages as well,”.

Although the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown, defective genes are one of the most frequent causes. The case of the adolescent patient, however, was unique because no known genetic abnormalities were found.

He displayed typical symptoms of memory loss, including difficulty with studying, a propensity to misplace things, an inability to recall eating, and the need to drop out of high school, according to the South China Morning Post.

Dr. Manish Mahajan, Senior Consultant in Neurology from Artemis Hospital in Gurugram, told IANS that neurologists shouldn’t dismiss memory impairment in young patients.

He disagrees, though, that young individuals will be more likely to have Alzheimer’s. “It will be a wrong message if we say that Alzheimer’s is now seen in younger individuals. It still remains a disease of elderly,” Mahajan remarked.

While one cannot change their genes, good sleep, physical and mental exercise, which includes playing chess or bridge games can be key in avoiding the disease, Prasad said.
He also advised to “eat nuts for daily nutrition, especially walnuts as it carries a good amount of antioxidants which slow down the brain ageing”.

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