Although there are over 200 subtypes of the condition, the most common are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia and mixed dementia.
Affecting more than 520,000 people in the UK, Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent and set to rise in the coming years.
Researchers believe that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the abnormal build-up of two specific proteins called amyloid and tau. Deposits of amyloid, called plaques, build up around brain cells and deposits of tau form “tangles” within brain cells.
The NHS adds that as a result of brain cells becoming affected in Alzheimer’s, there is also a decrease in chemical messengers (called neurotransmitters) involved in sending messages, or signals, between brain cells.