Who is at risk of Alzheimer’s disease?

By  , Expert Content
Feb 23, 2012

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The exact cause of Alzheimer's is not known but there are many factors which increase your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). Read to know who is at risk of Alzheimer’s:

  • Older adults: Age is a major risk factor for AD and the risk of Alzheimer’s increase with age. It has been observed that approximately 6 out of 100 people over 65 years of age and 35 out of 100 people over 85 years of age have some form of dementia.
  • Family history: Most people with Alzheimer's disease do not have a family history of the disease, but your risk of AD is increased if a member of your family has it (especially if one or more of your parents or siblings has AD).
  • Genetic: Specific genetic changes which lead to a person to develop the disease are present in less than 5 percent of the time. The presence of the apolipoprotein E4 gene increases your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Down syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes mental retardation, also increases the risk of AD.
  • Risk factors of heart disease: According to some studies factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, excess weight and diabetes which are known to increase the risk of heart disease can possibly also increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. So working to control these factors will probably lower the risk of dementia as well.
  • Hormone replacement therapy: According to some studies woman over 65 years of age on estrogen or estrogen plus progestin therapy are at increased risk of developing dementia (including Alzheimer's disease).
  • Sex: Women are probably at higher risk of AD as compared to men (in part because they live longer).
  • Mild cognitive impairment: People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a brain disorder that causes memory problems or other symptoms of cognitive decline which worsen with age might increase the risk of AD.

Here are some factors which may reduce your risk of AD:

  • Lifelong learning and social engagement are two important aspects helpful in lowering the risk related to AD. Studies have found an association between lifelong involvement in mentally and socially stimulating activities and reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Older adults who stay mentally active by doing challenging leisure activities, such as reading newspapers, books, and magazines, playing cards and other games, working crossword puzzles are possibly at lower risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.
  • Higher levels of formal education.
  • A stimulating and challenging job.
  • Frequent social interactions with family and friends.

The exact way in which these activities reduce the risk of AD is not known but these activities probably improve the brain’s cell-to-cell connections and communication, which in turn protects your brain against the impact of Alzheimer’s-related changes.



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