Alzheimers Disease DRG 012

Mean LOS: 6.3 days Description: MEDICAL: Degenerative Nervous System Disorders

^Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a degenerative disorder of the brain that is manifested by dementia and progressive physiological impairment. It is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly but is not a normal part of aging. More than 4 million Americans suffer from AD.

Dementia involves progressive decline in two or more of the following areas of cognition: memory, language, calculation, visual-spatial perception, judgment, abstraction, and behavior. Dementia of the Alzheimer's type (DAT) accounts for approximately half of all dementias. The average time from onset of symptoms to death is 8 to 10 years. The pathophysiological changes that occur in DAT include the following:

1. Presence of neurofibrillary tangles, neuritic plaques, and amyloid angiopathy

2. Accumulation of lipofuscin granules and granulovacuolar organelles in the cytoplasm of the neurons

3. Structural changes in the dendrites of the neurons and in the cell bodies

4. Predominant neuronal degeneration in the cortical association areas of the basal ganglia

5. Gross cortical atrophy and widening of the sulci

6. Enlargement of the ventricles

7. Decrease in neurotransmitters (acetylcholine, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin), somatostatin, and neuropeptide substance P

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