Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes people to lose their memory. In the elderly, it is the most common cause of dementia. It causes the brain cells to shrink and die. The areas responsible for memories are usually affected earlier. During the early stage, people start forgetting recent events and conversations. As the disease progresses, it leads to severe memory impairment and the inability to carry out daily tasks. It is because it affects the ability to think, plan, concentrate and make reasonable decisions. There is no proper treatment for the disease; however, medication can temporarily relieve or slow the progression of symptoms.

Multiple factors are working together which cause this disease.

Uncontrollable factors
These are the factors that we can’t change. These include:

  1. Age
    The risk for the disease increases with the increasing age, especially after the age of 60 years. After, age of 65 years risk of the disease doubles every five years. However, it can affect at a young age as well, i.e., 40 years or less. In this case, it is called early-or young-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Family history
    Risk for the Alzheimer’s disease is very high in first-degree- relatives (your parent or sibling) having the disease. The risk for the disease is also higher if multiple family members have Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Individual genetic mutations
    Mostly Alzheimer’s genetic risk is determined by a large number of different genes. However, people with a mutation in the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE e4) have a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Down Syndrome
    People with Down syndrome have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, the mechanism for developing Alzheimer’s is not known. The disease appears 10-20 years earlier than in the general population.
  5. Sex
    Some studies have shown that females have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared with males.

Controllable factors
Controllable factors are those for which we can take steps to change or influence. These factors

  1. Cardiovascular health
    The factors which cause cardiovascular disease are also associated with increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. These factors include:
  • High blood pressure
    ● High cholesterol level
    ● Uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
    ● Sedentary lifestyle
  1. Obesity
    People with a BMI of >30 tend to have a two-fold increase in risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
  2. Head injury
    People who have experienced traumatic brain injury or recurring impact to the brain (e.g., as part of football or Boxing) have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s
  3. Lack of mental engagement
    Mental challenges, such as gaming, reading, higher education, and an engaging job reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s
  4. Disturbed sleep patterns
    Some studies have shown that people with poor sleep patterns and having difficulty falling asleep have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
  5. Excessive alcohol intake
    Many studies have shown that excessive alcohol consumption leads to brain changes and
    increases Alzheimer’s risk. Meanwhile, moderate wine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
  6. Depression
    People with untreated depression have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  7. Social isolation
    Research suggests that loneliness and social isolation cause an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease

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