In the Alzheimer's Association's 2010 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, the organization notes that 5.3 million people in the United States have the disease. Women are also more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than men. In a graph based on numbers from the Aging, Demographics and Memory Study, the Alzheimer's Association reports that 16 percent of women ages 71 and over have Alzheimer's disease, compared to 11 percent of men in that same age group.
The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease grow progressively worse. For example, MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, points out that language symptoms of Alzheimer's disease start with patients having trouble finding the name for an object they use often, such as a key. By the mid-stage of the disease, patients have problems reading and writing and speak in confusing sentences. When patients reach the advanced stage of Alzheimer's disease, they no longer can understand language. Alzheimer's disease also affects other important cognitive functions, such as memory, judgment and thinking.
No cure exists for Alzheimer's disease. The MayoClinic.com notes that two types of drugs slow down the cognitive decline from Alzheimer's disease: cholinesterase inhibitors, such as galantamine, donepezil and rivastigmine, and memantine. Pharmaceutical companies continue to look for new medications that can slow the symptoms of the disorder. But the Baltimore Sun reports that the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. has halted the development of a new drug for Alzheimer's disease. The drug, semagacestat, which is a gamma secretase inhibitor, performed worse that a placebo, according to preliminary results.
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