Today, over 5 million Americans struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, and 1 in 3 senior citizens pass from this complication or another form of dementia. This neurodegenerative condition comes with a lapse in memory (which can worsen with time), behavioural issues, and general forgetfulness. Those symptoms may seem tame, but Alzheimer’s often pays a heavy toll on the individuals suffering from it, as well as their friends and family.
Though researchers are still attempting to better decipher this perplexing disease, several risk factors have been identified, some being more preventable than others. Below are some of the most common contributors to Alzheimer’s to understand.
Everyone understands that aging is the most basic contributor to the development of Alzheimer’s, but some people are more prone than others. This is based largely on one’s genetic makeup, which can tell specifically when an individual is likely to develop this disease (see early-onset and late-onset dementia). Early-onset dementia can occur in someone as young as 30, which is often caused by genetic mutations from those inherited by a parent.
Similarly, your family history can determine your likeliness of developing Alzheimer’s disease. If one or more of a person’s relatives have had the disease in the past, the odds that they develop it later down the road are typically higher than those whose family has never experienced the complication.
One may not think it, but preserving your heart health and overall cardiovascular health could actually decrease the chance of developing Alzheimer’s at a later age. This may include managing diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other heart conditions. While there is still much more research to be done on this theory, the connection between the heart and the brain may provide further insight on an array of mental health issues.
Trauma to the head and repeated contact over the years has actually been linked to an increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s. This study conducted on World War II veterans found that those who suffered from any type of brain injury during the war were more prone to dementia. Athletes are in the same realm. Football players who devote years of their lives to full contact sport put themselves at risk of developing mental health issues as well.
As mentioned before, researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how Alzheimer’s works, how it develops, and how we can prevent it. For now, it’s best to take the aforementioned factors into consideration to know and understand them, thus preventing yourself from worsening your chances of developing this troublesome complication.