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Connecting Pharmacies for a Healthier Tomorrow: Addressing the Primary Challenge in the Nigerian Pharmaceutical Industry | Pharmarun

Pharmacies are the first point of contact for many Nigerians. They're places where you can get medicine and advice when you're not feeling well. In Nigeria, where not everyone can easily go to big hospitals, pharmacies become even more important. They are often the first place people turn to when they're sick or need some kind of medicine.


Dementia And Alzheimer's Disease In Nigeria

Dementia is a broad term used to describe a range of symptoms associated with a decline in cognitive abilities, such as memory, thinking, reasoning, and communication skills. It is not a specific disease but rather a syndrome caused by various underlying conditions. Dementia affects a person's ability to function independently and can have a significant impact on their daily life.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common and well-known form of dementia, accounting for approximately 60-80% of all cases. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects older adults. Alzheimer's disease is caused by the accumulation of abnormal protein deposits, including beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles, in the brain.

The early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease often include memory loss, confusion, difficulty with language and problem-solving, as well as changes in mood and behavior. As the disease progresses, individuals may experience severe memory impairment, disorientation, and a decline in overall cognitive function. Daily activities and personal care become increasingly difficult, leading to a need for extensive assistance and care.

Causes and risk factors

Alzheimer's disease is primarily caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. The exact cause is not fully understood, but age, family history, certain genes (such as the APOE ε4 allele), and lifestyle factors like cardiovascular health and education level can increase the risk.

Alzheimer's disease involves the accumulation of abnormal proteins in the brain, namely beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles. These deposits disrupt communication between neurons, leading to progressive brain cell damage and cognitive decline. Memory loss, confusion, language difficulties, impaired judgment, and changes in mood and behavior are common features.

Stages of Alzheimer's disease

  1. Early stage: Mild memory loss and subtle cognitive changes.
  2. Middle stage: Increased memory loss, confusion, difficulties with daily tasks, personality changes.
  3. Late stage: Severe memory impairment, loss of communication skills, dependency on others for basic activities.

Treatment options and management

While there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, various treatment approaches can help to manage the symptoms and slow disease progression. This includes medications to temporarily improve cognitive function and manage behavioral symptoms. Additionally, non-pharmacological interventions, such as cognitive stimulation therapy and memory care programs, can help support individuals with Alzheimer's and enhance their quality of life.

Lewy body dementia

Lewy body dementia is caused by the buildup of abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies in the brain. The exact cause is unknown, but genetic and environmental factors may play a role. Advanced age is a significant risk factor.

Symptoms and diagnostic criteria

Lewy body dementia is characterized by fluctuating cognitive abilities, visual hallucinations, Parkinsonism (motor symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease), and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder. Diagnosis involves a comprehensive evaluation of symptoms, medical history, and cognitive and physical examinations.

Treatment approaches

Medications can help alleviate cognitive and psychiatric symptoms, while physical therapy and exercise may address motor symptoms. Supportive care, including creating a safe environment and providing emotional support also helps

Vascular dementia

Vascular dementia occurs due to impaired blood flow to the brain, usually as a result of strokes or other vascular conditions. Risk factors include hypertension, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

Relationship to stroke and cardiovascular disease

Vascular dementia often follows strokes or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), which can damage brain tissue and lead to cognitive decline. The severity and location of the strokes determine the extent of cognitive impairment.

Treatment strategies

Managing vascular risk factors is vital in preventing or slowing the progression of vascular dementia. Treatment may involve medications to control blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol levels. Lifestyle modifications, such as a healthy diet, exercise, and smoking cessation, are also recommended.

Frontotemporal dementia

Frontotemporal dementia is caused by the degeneration of nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Genetic mutations are associated with some cases, while the cause of others is unknown. It often affects individuals between the ages of 40 and 65.

Frontotemporal dementia commonly presents with changes in behavior, personality, and language abilities. Behavioral symptoms may include apathy, disinhibition, and socially inappropriate actions. Language difficulties can involve progressive speech and comprehension impairments.

Mixed dementia

Combination of Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia

Mixed dementia refers to a condition where an individual experiences a combination of Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. This means that both Alzheimer's-related changes, such as beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles, as well as vascular-related brain damage, contribute to cognitive decline.

The symptoms of mixed dementia can vary depending on the relative contribution of Alzheimer's and vascular components. Common symptoms include memory loss, language difficulties, confusion, and impaired judgment. Treatment for mixed dementia involves managing both the Alzheimer's-related and vascular-related aspects, including medications to address cognitive symptoms and lifestyle modifications to manage vascular risk factors.

Relationship to Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease dementia is a type of dementia that occurs in individuals with Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder characterized by motor symptoms such as tremors, rigidity, and bradykinesia (slowness of movement). Over time, some individuals with Parkinson's disease may also develop cognitive impairments, leading to Parkinson's disease dementia.

In addition to the motor symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease, individuals with Parkinson's disease dementia may experience cognitive decline. These cognitive symptoms can include memory loss, difficulties with attention and executive functions, and changes in mood and behavior.

The treatment of Parkinson's disease dementia focuses on managing both the motor symptoms and cognitive impairments. Medications can help alleviate motor symptoms, while medications targeting cognitive symptoms may be prescribed. 

Other less common types of dementia

Semantic dementia

Semantic dementia is a rare form of dementia characterized by the progressive loss of language and semantic memory. Individuals with semantic dementia have difficulty understanding and using words, recognizing objects and faces, and may exhibit changes in behavior.

Primary progressive aphasia

Primary progressive aphasia is a type of dementia that primarily affects language abilities. Individuals with this condition gradually lose their ability to speak, understand written or spoken language, and may have difficulty with word-finding and grammar.

Dementia pugilistica

Dementia pugilistica, also known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), is a type of dementia that occurs as a result of repeated head trauma, often seen in professional boxers and athletes involved in contact sports. It is characterized by cognitive decline, memory problems, mood disturbances, and movement abnormalities.

Causes of Dementia

  1. Genetic factors and familial predisposition

Some forms of dementia have a genetic component, meaning that certain genes can increase the risk of developing the condition. In some cases, dementia can run in families, indicating a familial predisposition. However, it's important to note that having a family history of dementia does not necessarily mean that an individual will develop the condition.

  1. Age-related changes and aging process

Advanced age is the most significant risk factor for dementia. As we get older, our brains undergo natural changes, and the risk of developing dementia increases. While dementia is not considered a normal part of aging, age-related changes in the brain can make individuals more susceptible to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders.

  1. Environmental factors and lifestyle choices

Environmental factors and lifestyle choices play a crucial role in dementia risk. Factors such as cardiovascular health, education level, social engagement, and mental stimulation can influence the risk of developing dementia. Leading a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical exercise, a balanced diet, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and staying mentally active may help reduce the risk of dementia.

  1. Role of amyloid and tau proteins

Amyloid and tau proteins are two key players in the development of certain types of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. Amyloid proteins form plaques, and tau proteins form tangles in the brain, disrupting normal cellular function. The accumulation of these abnormal proteins leads to neurodegeneration and cognitive decline. 

How to prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

  1. Engaging in regular physical exercise to promote cardiovascular health and improve blood flow to the brain.
  2. Maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  3. Managing and controlling chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
  4. Staying mentally and socially active by participating in mentally stimulating activities, pursuing hobbies, and maintaining strong social connections.
  5. Protecting the head from injury by wearing appropriate safety gear during sports and taking precautions to prevent falls.


Dementia is a complex condition that affects the brain and results in cognitive decline, memory loss, and other impairments. We discussed various types of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, and frontotemporal dementia. Each type has its own causes, symptoms, and management strategies.

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