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Are You At Risk From Alzheimer’s Disease? Risk Factor Checklist

Alzheimer’s disease starts to eat away at the brain before any real clinical sign or symptoms of the disease show such as memory loss so it is VERY IMPORTANT to learn of the risk factors behind Alzheimer’s. Here we list the 11 major risk factors:

Alzheimer’s Risk 1: Age

Age is the number one risk factor behind Alzheimer’s disease – the older you get the more likely you are to develop the disease. Most people suffering with Alzheimer’s are over the age of 65 and the risk factor doubles with every 5 years after 65, growing to nearly 50% for those over 85.

Alzheimer’s Risk 2: Hereditary/Genetics

People who have a history of Alzheimer’s disease in their family are two to three times more likely to develop the disease further on in life. The more family members who have suffered with the disease, the greater the risk. However most cases of Alzheimer’s is a result of both genetics and other contributing factors (see below) and the hereditary form (Familial Alzheimer’s) only accounts for about 5% of all cases.

There are certain genes that have been identified that increases the risk but there is no guarantee it will develop while other genes have been identified to practically guarantee Alzheimer’s developing but are so rare, only a few hundred individuals the world over carry these genes.

Alzheimer’s Risk 3: Gender

Women are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s than their opposite sex due to the fact women live longer than men and therefore, due to the age risk factor, are more predisposed to the disease. But even discounting this, new research has shown that a lack of the hormone oestrogen in post-menopausal women is linked with Alzheimer’s. Indeed hormone replacement therapy may even increase a women’s risk factor of developing the disease.

Alzheimer’s Risk 4: Medical history

People who have a previous medical history of suffering with certain conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Down’s syndrome, Aids, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, Diabetes, strokes and other vascular related problems can be at risk from developing Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s Risk 5: Diet

A high in fat diet has been proven to adversely effect the body which in turn affects the brain and while diet specifically isn’t recognized as a cause of Alzheimer’s in itself, a fatty diet has been proven to cause high cholesterol, heart disease and high blood pressure amongst other forms of vascular disease which are recognized risk factors of Alzheimer’s. It is always advisable to eat a healthy well balanced diet regardless. Vitamins E and C are believed to contain agents effective in protecting the brain from developing dementia.

Alzheimer’s Risk 6: Smoking

Smoking does untold damage to the body, especially the vascular system which as already covered above, is very important to the brain. Smoking can damage the blood vessels in the brain among other things, increasing the risk of getting dementia which can lead to Alzheimer’s of course.

Alzheimer’s Risk 7: Alcohol

Excessive drinkers of alcohol over a long period of time are at greater risk of developing a form of Alzheimer’s than non-drinkers for example. Heavy drinking can lead to Korsakoff’s syndrome, a brain disorder, which can cause memory loss and leave the brain susceptible to dementia.

Alzheimer’s Risk 8: Physical exercise/fitness

Overweight or obese people are at greater risk of developing vascular problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol for example which can all starve the brain of a healthy supply of blood. By keeping fit and exercising regularly, the risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s can decrease significantly.

Alzheimer’s Risk 9: Education

People who have been exposed to a high level of education for a number of years are at less risk of developing Alzheimer’s than those who haven’t quite had a sufficient level of education, or are thought to be able to ‘deal’ with any abnormal changes in the brain much better. Scientists believe that longer education helps the brain develop stronger and more complex synapses (nerve-fiber connections that allow brain neurons to communicate with one another) which can help the brain cope with changes to the brain associated with Alzheimer’s. Basically mental stimulation such as learning an education is good for the brain.

Alzheimer’s Risk 10: Mental exercise

Research has proved that people with a high degree of social interactivity or with a wide range of hobbies and activities are at lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Mental tasks such as puzzles and crosswords help strengthen the brain’s capacity to deal with changes.

Alzheimer’s Risk 11: Head injury/brain trauma

Previous head injury or brain trauma is a common factor in people who suffer with Alzheimer’s and while it isn’t thought to cause or lead to the disease, it is recognized as a risk factor.

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