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What are Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease?

The five biggest risk factors, as stated by Dr. Oz, are the following

1. Age

The biggest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s is age. The chances of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s increase steadily as we age. Right now, the risk of Alzheimer’s doubles every year after the age of 65. About half of people who are 85 and older have Alzheimer’s.

2. Genetics

Another risk factor is genetics. There is a rare form of Alzheimer’s called Familial Alzheimer’s, which always begins well before the age of 65 (typically in the 40s and 50s) and runs in families, that is autosomal dominant.

3. Head Trauma

Prior experience with head trauma, especially if consciousness was lost, increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Always wear a seat belt and helmets.

4. Diabetes

In a recent study out of Japan that looked at over 1000 men and women over the age of 60, it was found that people with diabetes (especially type 2) were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

5. Cardiovascular Disease

Eighty percent of people with Alzheimer's disease also have cardiovascular disease. Scientists are trying to better understand the link between heart health and Alzheimer’s disease, but we do know a few things about this relationship.

All the risk factors for heart disease (things like poor diet, lack of exercise) are also risk factors for Alzheimer’s. And this means that things like a healthy, Mediterranean diet (whole grains, red and purple fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts) and exercise may not only protect the heart, they may protect us from Alzheimer’s. 

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, but understanding these risk factors offers us some good news. While we can’t do anything about getting older or the genes we’ve inherited from our parents, eating smart, keeping cholesterol levels and blood sugar low, exercising, wearing a helmet when bicycling or skiing, and wearing a seat belt in the car are among the things we can do to keep the arm of the Alzheimer’s scale from tipping to the ground. 

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