The risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease are non-modifiable, physiological, and behavioral. Non-modifiable risk factors include age, which is the most prominent risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. At 65 years of age, our chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease is about 3%. This number doubles every 5 years, meaning that by age 85, we have a 50% risk of getting this disease. The second risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is family history, especially maternal family history, which triples this risk. This is most likely related to abnormal genotypes such as APOE-4.
Physiological risk factors are treatable complications – such as type 2 diabetes and all the associated risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol. All of these are considered to be vascular risk factors. Another physiological risk factor is depression, especially late onset depression.
Behavioral risk factors, such as smoking, increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 15 times. Alcohol is another one of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease; alcohol by itself can produce dementia. Additionally, head injury is another risk factor. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes and many military personnel with history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions and asymptomatic subconcussions from hits to the head. Progressive deterioration of gait is also fairly common in a patient with Alzheimer’s disease, and falls with head injuries are very common, which may accelerate the progression of the disease.
Delaying Cognitive Decline
The earlier in life that you address your risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, the lower your chances will be of developing this condition later in life. Do not wait until old age!
Companies selling nutritional supplements on TV commercials, in magazines, and in newspapers swear they can cure every disease including Alzheimer’s disease. They quote science behind their statements and positive clinical trials. Pay attention to the statement by the FDA that can be seen at the beginning of TV commercials and on every nutritional supplement bottle they are trying to sell you: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
Physical and intellectual activity are the only things that may delay cognitive decline. I recommend going on 30 minute walks 4 or 5 times a week, in addition to keeping the mind active by learning new skills and continually acquiring new knowledge. Learning a new language, reading books, and teaching yourself to play a new instrument are some great ways to help keep your mental faculties in top condition.
Interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s research? Please call 561-296-3855. The Premiere Research Institute in West Palm Beach regularly conducts clinical research studies in the field of Alzheimer’s Disease. To find out more about these studies click here or sign up for their newsletter to keep informed about the newest treatments, articles, and research that are being conducted in the field of Alzheimer’s.