Alzheimer’s disease is a complex illness that develops slowly over time. Because the brain damage associated with Alzheimer’s starts way before dementia develops, scientists are working on ways to detect the disease at its earliest stages so they’ll have a better idea of who’s at risk. In the meantime, nobody knows the exact cause of Alzheimer’s, but there are some obvious contributing factors. Some can be controlled. Others can’t. Here are some thinigs that can put you at risk.
Age. According to the National Institute on Aging, after age 65, your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years.
Family history/genetics. If your mom, dad, brother, or sister has Alzheimer’s, you have a higher chance of also developing the disease. Scientists have discovered genetic links to both early-onset and late-onset Alzheimer’s.
Gender. Females are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than males. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, almost 2/3 of all people who currently have the disease are women. Part of the reason may be that women live longer than men. But scientists believe there’s more to it than that. They’re currently investigating potential genetic, biological, hormonal, and lifestyle differences between men and women that may account for the higher incidence of Alzheimer’s in women.
Heart disease. Since the heart pumps blood and nutrients to the brain, it makes sense that a healthy heart would make for a healthier brain. And there is some evidence to suggest that heart disease can increase your risk for Alzheimer’s. If you want to improve your heart health, there are plenty of healthy food options and places to exercise in Lawrence, Topeka, or Olathe.
Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can damage your heart and blood vessels. And as mentioned above, heart disease can increase your risk for Alzheimer’s.
High blood pressure/cholesterol. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can also damage the heart and blood vessels, which can increase your Alzheimer’s risk.
Previous head injury. Severe head trauma, especially an injury in which you lose conciousness, may cause damage that can increase your risk for Alzheimer’s.
Although there’s no known cause for Alzheimer’s disease (or proven method for prevention), there are some potential risk factors for which you do have some control. It’s also a good idea to take measures to keep your mind sharp as you age.