Risk Factors For Alzheimer's
Multiple factors contribute to the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's. Individuals with a family history, those experiencing memory loss, and especially individuals with the ApoE gene should understand and take steps to manage their risk factors.
Alzheimer's is an Epidemic.
Currently 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's or dementia. The number of individuals with the disease, but who have not been diagnosed is likely much larger. One of the reasons Alzheimer's is so deadly is that early symptoms are difficult to recognize and can easily be confused with the natural process of aging.
In many cases the disease is not identified until the it has progressed to an advanced state. Individuals concerned about developing Alzheimer's should begin addressing these risk factors as soon as possible. Waiting to make changes until symptoms are noticeable will result in more damage to the brain.
"The whole is greater than the sum of the parts". Risk factors interact to determine the total chance of developing Alzheimer's. Certain risk factors, like the ApoE gene, increase the importance of managing others.
Genetics Is One of the Most Important Factors.
Genes influence everything about you, from your hair color to what foods you like; so it's no surprise that genes also determine how vulnerable you are to the other causes of Alzheimer's.
Scientists have discovered a specific gene, ApoE, which greatly increases your likelihood of developing Alzheimer's. Individuals with this gene should take greater care to address their other risk factors.
More information about ApoE gene and genetic testing on our Genetics & ApoE Page .
Women are More Likely to Develop Alzheimer's than Men.
Women have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's and once developed, the disease progresses almost twice as fast as in women than in men.
While it is well known that there are differences between the brains of males and brains and females, it is not completely understood why Alzheimer's affects women differently from men.
Scientists have theorized that the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen may influence the progression of Alzheimer's.
It's important for women, especially those with a family history, to be proactive in preventing Alzheimer's and to monitor symptoms and begin treatment as soon as symptoms are noticed.
Medical Conditions (Diabetes, High Blood Pressure)
Heart and brain health are closely linked. Studies have shown that individuals with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, or a history of strokes are at a 30 to 50 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer's.
If you have been diagnosed with one of the conditions above it is important to monitor and treat them.
If you are unaware of your blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetic status you should consider an appointment with your general practitioner.
You Are More Likely To Develop Alzheimer's the Older You Become.
Age is the best predictor of Alzheimer's and dementia. Beginning at age 65, the probability of showing symptoms Alzheimer's doubles every five years.
It's important to realize that the underlying causes of Alzheimer's disease begin years before the first symptoms appear. Lifestyle and habits of a 40 year old individual greatly influence their likelihood of developing Alzheimer's 20 years later.
At age 65 nearly 1 in 10 people will have Alzheimer's or dementia, by the age of 85, more than 30% of people will have developed the disease.
Vitamin D is one of several vitamins whose deficiency has shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Chronic Nutrient Deficiencies Damage the Brain.
The brain needs certain vitamins and nutrients to repair itself, clean out waste products, and create new brain cells. When the brain does not receive these nutrients, especially for long periods of time, brain damage can occur.
Studies have linked several nutrient deficiencies significantly increased risk of of Alzheimer's and dementia.
An international research team found that adults whom were moderately deficient in Vitamin D had a 53% increased chance of developing dementia, while those severely deficient had an increased risk of 125% of developing dementia.
We discuss the Vitamins & Supplements linked to Alzheimer's and dementia on our Vitamins & Supplements Page.