At Novo Nordisk, we are acting on our purpose to defeat diabetes and other serious chronic diseases by expanding our commitment in areas of high unmet need, including Alzheimer’s disease. This is a disease that impacts millions of people worldwide,1 and we welcome you to learn more about its causes, symptoms and how to support a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that slowly destroys a person’s memory, thinking skills and other cognitive functions.1,2 It is a progressive disease, which means that it worsens over time, eventually leaving those affected with the disease unable to carry out simple daily activities.1
These changes in memory and cognitive functions are due to nerve cells (called neurons) in the brain becoming damaged and destroyed.1,2 A healthy brain contains tens of billions of neurons,3 whose main function is to transmit information between different parts of the brain, and from the brain to the muscles and organs of the body.4 In Alzheimer’s disease, damage becomes widespread as nerve cells stop functioning and die, thereby disrupting the communication between neurons.1
Initially, cognitive decline that leads to symptoms, such as memory loss, are often mistaken for normal signs of ageing.1,5 Therefore, it is important to discuss with your doctor any early signs and symptoms that you suspect could be unrelated to normal ageing and due to early Alzheimer’s disease.
Though you may hear these terms being used together, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not the same thing.
Dementia is not a specific disease, but a general term describing a group of symptoms that over time will impact memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities.1,7
While dementia has many causes, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of dementia causes globally.1,5 Someone with Alzheimer’s disease can show symptoms of dementia, and this is known as Alzheimer’s dementia. However, not everyone with dementia has Alzheimer’s disease.1
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease,5 though today’s therapies can still help treat symptoms and improve quality of life for those living with the disease.1,2 In 2021, an intravenous (IV) treatment was approved in the U.S. for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease with further evidence needed to confirm its clinical benefit to treat symptoms.11