Alzheimer’s disease is caused by parts of the brain shrinking (atrophy), which affects the structure and function of particular brain areas. It’s not known exactly what causes this process to begin. However, in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have found amyloid plaques (abnormal deposits of protein), neurofibrillary tangles (containing tau) and imbalances in a chemical called acetylcholine. It’s also common to have a degree of vascular damage in the brain. These reduce the effectiveness of healthy neurons. Over time, this damage spreads to several areas of the brain. The first areas affected are responsible for memories.
Although it’s still unknown what triggers Alzheimer’sdisease, several factors are known to increase your risk of developing the condition.
Age is the single most significant factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The likelihood of developing the condition doubles every five years after you reach 65 years of age. However, it’s not just older people who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Around 1 in 20 people with the condition are under 65. This is called early onset Alzheimer’s disease and it can affect people from around the age of 40.
The genes you inherit from your parents can contribute to your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, although the actual increase in risk is small if you have a close family member with the condition.
People with Down’s syndrome are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This is because the genetic fault that causes Down’s syndrome can also cause amyloid plaques to build up in the brain over time, which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease in some people.
People who have had a severe head injury have been found to be at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Research shows that several lifestyle factors and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- · smoking
- · obesity
- · diabetes
- · high blood pressure
- · high cholesterol
You can help reduce your risk by:
- · stopping smoking
- · eating a healthy, balanced diet
- · leading an active life, both physically and mentally
- · losing weight if you need to
- · drinking less alcohol
- · having regular health checks as you get older
To know more join us at the International Conference on Alzheimers, Dementia and Related Neurodegenerative Diseases at Madrid, Spain on 27-28 August, 2018.