Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U. S., and one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans have Alzheimer’s, with someone developing the disease every 66 seconds.
Many of us have been touched by this devastating disease. We’ve seen, or at least heard, about the heartbreaking and sometimes scary impact it has on our loved ones or friends. And we may wonder if it’s in our own future. How do we know?
Unfortunately, the most important risk factors are things we have no control over.
- Age—Age is the greatest known risk factor. Most people with the disease are age 65 and older, with 1 in 9 people affected. As we age, the risk increases: one-third of those age 85 and older have the disease.
- Family History—If you have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s, you are more likely to get it also. The more family members who have it, the higher your risk.
- Genetics—Scientists have found several genes that increase risk. APOE-e4 (apolipoprotein E-e4) has been determined to increase likelihood, but the disease may not occur. Some genes guarantee the person will get Alzheimer’s. Scientists have found that the genes coding three proteins—amyloid precursor protein (APP), presenilin-1 (PS-1), and presenilin-2 (PS-2)—cause autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease (ADAD)” or “familial Alzheimer’s disease.” However, these genetic variations are rare, accounting for just one percent of cases worldwide.
- Race/Ethnicity—Older Latinos are about one and a half times as likely as Whites to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias; and African-Americans twice as likely. This may be due to higher rates of heart disease in these groups.
Over the years, some suspicions about the causes of Alzheimer’s have been found to be untrue. Alzheimer’s is not caused by aluminum (such as by drinking out of aluminum cans or using deodorants/anti-perspirants that contain aluminum). Additionally, no scientific evidence has been found to support claims that it’s causedby aspartame, the flu shot, or silver dental fillings.
What You Can Do
There may be some things you can do to influence your risk, however.
- Protect your brain—Buckle your seat belt, wear a helmet when playing sports, and otherwise be careful to protect your brain. There may be a link between serious head trauma and future risk.
- Be heart smart—Conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, which all damage the heart and blood vessels, seem to increase risk as well.
- Protect your health—Research suggests that overall healthy aging may help, too. Eat a healthy diet, stay active, exercise the body and mind, and avoid tobacco and excess alcohol.
Today, Alzheimer’s is the only top 10 cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed. Research is critical to discovering ways to fight it. Meridien Research has memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease studies enrolling now at several of our clinics. For more information or to
see if you or someone you know may qualify to participate, please contact us today at 1-888-777-8839 or visit our individual study pages.