Alzheimer's Disease

How does Alzheimer's disease affect the body?

A Answers (3)

  • AZaldy S. Tan, MD, Geriatric Medicine, answered on behalf of UCLA Health

    Alzheimer’s disease affects the body by impairing the parts of the brain that allow us to:

    • Form new memories
    • Reason
    • Orient ourselves

    As the disease progresses, it spreads to parts of the brain that control walking, swallowing and coordination. In this way, though Alzheimer’s starts out as a problem with memory and thought, it eventually affects the function of the entire body.

  • AHealthwise answered

    Researchers have discovered changes that take place in the brains of people who have Alzheimer's disease. These brain changes may cause the memory loss and decline in other mental abilities that occur with Alzheimer's disease. It's not fully understood why these brain changes occur in some people but not in others.

    Alzheimer's disease gets worse over time, but the course of the disease varies from person to person. Some people may still be able to function relatively well until late in the course of the disease. Others may lose the ability to do everyday activities very early on.

    • The disease tends to get worse gradually. It usually starts with mild memory loss. It progresses to severe mental and functional problems and eventual death.
    • Symptoms sometimes are described as occurring in early, middle and late phases. It's hard to predict how long each phase will last.
    • The average amount of time a person lives after developing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is 8 to 10 years.

    A person with severe dementia becomes more vulnerable to other illnesses, such as pneumonia.

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. To learn more visit

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

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  • AUCLA Health answered

    Alzheimer's disease affects the brain. The disease causes degeneration of brain tissue and nerve cells. With less nerve cells present, it becomes harder for the brain to communicate with the body and function properly. Specifically, the neurotransmitter (a chemical that passes among cells relaying messages) acetylcholine isn't produced at a high enough volume. This chemical is needed in order for your brain to learn, concentrate or remember information. With low levels of acetylcholine, those functions begin to decrease.

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