Saturday, October 18, 2014

A History of Alzheimer's

While cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States (followed by cancer and stroke), Alzheimer’s Disease — the sixth leading cause of death — is getting a lot of attention these days. However, I still hear people refer to this devastating illness as “Old Timer’s.”

This misnomer begs the question, “Where did the name of the disease originate?”

Dr. Aloysius “Alois” Alzheimer was a Bavarian-born (1864) German psychiatrist and neuropathologist at the Asylum for the Insane and Epileptic in Frankfurt. On a fateful day in 1901, he met a new patient who exhibited memory loss, often expressed by repeating the phrase, “I have lost myself.” Planning to conduct a short interview, he recorded this conversation:

Q: What is your name?
Q: Surname?
Q: How is your husband?
I think Auguste.
Q: Your husband?
Oh, my man.
Q: Are you married?
For Auguste.
Q: Mrs. Deter?
Yes, to Auguste Deter.

Dr. Alzheimer was captivated; Auguste Deter became his obsession. As her memory loss worsened, he noted that she often expressed unfounded suspicions about her family and exhibited other emotional changes.

 After her death at age 51 in April 1906, he took the patient records and her brain to the Munich lab of a colleague, Emil Kraepelin. There, along with two Italian physicians, he used staining techniques to identify amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

 Today, more than a century later, the formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are considered the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Alzheimer is credited with identifying the first published case of “pre-senile dementia,” which Kraepelin named “Alzheimer’s Disease” in his textbook “Clinical Psychiatry,” published in 1910.

Full Article and Source:
Here's a History of Alzheimer's


Thelma said...

Interesting. I'd like to know more. What is today's technology up to?

Finny said...

Alzheimer's is just the worst thing. I realize it's not as physically painful as cancer, but it's just as feared.

tvfields said...

Thelma, a friend recently shared with me the article at I think it will interest you enough to want to Google >> microglia inflammation “alzheimer's disease" <<. Google will return articles going back to at least 2007.