Review Articles

Understanding Alzheimer disease

M. Vally, F. Kathrada
South African Family Practice | Vol 61, No 2 : March/April| a4999 | DOI: | © 2019 M. Vally, F. Kathrada | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 October 2019 | Published: 29 April 2019

About the author(s)

M. Vally, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
F. Kathrada, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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Alzheimer disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder with an uncertain pathogenesis. It is characterised by symptoms of memory impairment, executive dysfunction and visuospatial impairment. Management goals and interventions should be based on a solid alliance with the patient and family and on thorough psychiatric, neurological and general medical evaluations of the nature and cause of cognitive deficits and associated non-cognitive symptoms. There are currently three cholinesterase inhibitors and one N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist indicated in the treatment of AD as monotherapy or in combination. Cholinesterase inhibitors remain the first-line therapy in patients with mild to moderate AD, which may stabilise the symptomatic cognitive and functional decline. Other pharmacotherapy options include the use of memantine which may be used by itself or in combination with cholinesterase inhibitors. These treatments are for symptomatic relief and are not disease modifying in preventing the progression of the disease.


dementia; Alzheimer disease; treatment of dementia; risk factors; management of Alzheimer disease


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