NFL Coach Marty Schottenheimer's Cause Of Death Explained

Legendary NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer died at age 77 of complications from Alzheimer's disease. After a storied career both playing and coaching in the NFL, Schottenheimer was one of the winningest coaches of all time. He was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2014 and entered hospice care in January (via Yahoo! Sports).

Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative disease that is caused by damaged cells in the brain. Over 5 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer's disease and it's the sixth most common cause of death (via Alzheimer's Society). It is one of many types of dementia, and causes symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, difficulty speaking and writing, and changes in mood and personality, among others.

According to scientists, Alzheimer's disease starts when cells in the brain stop working well. These cells control everything your body does, and normally work like a well-oiled machine. But when one part of the cell stops functioning, it affects other cells in the brain. Eventually, the cells can no longer do the job of controlling your body functions.

Here's what the symptoms of Alzheimer's may look like

Early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease may include forgetting things that you've just learned. As the disease progresses, people may have trouble learning new things, reading and doing basic math, or even forget their own name (via Johns Hopkins). In late-stage Alzheimer's disease, a person may no longer be able to walk, eat, or do other basic physical activities, control their bladder or bowel movements, and talk in more than single words. People at this disease stage are also more prone to infections.

One of the most common infections that people with Alzheimer's disease get is pneumonia. A majority of people with Alzheimer's disease actually die from a complication. Patients who can't control the muscles that allow them to eat or drink are more likely to aspirate, or accidentally inhale, their food. This can lead to a dangerous form of pneumonia, and eventually death. Other common complications that can lead to Alzheimer's-related death include extreme weight loss, infections, and blood clots (via LiveScience).

While there is no known cure for Alzheimer's disease, researchers are working on treatments to slow the progression of symptoms. Some medications currently being used may be effective for several years. Until an exact cause for Alzheimer's disease is found, doctors encourage people to eat healthy foods and live an active life to promote brain health.