How You Can Lower Your Risk for Alzheimer's Disease

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Medically reviewed by: Neelum T. Aggarwal, MD
Associate Professor
Department of Neurological Sciences and Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center
Director of Research, Rush Heart Center for Women
Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

There are currently about 5.3 million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia, a progressive neurological condition that affects memory, behavior and the ability to carry out everyday tasks.

In the United States, one in eight people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer's disease, and recent data suggest that every 70 seconds someone in the United States will develop the disease. Despite these staggering statistics, there are no known cures for the disease, and even slowing its progression has proven to be difficult.

Advancing age remains the main risk factor for developing AD, and recent studies confirm that women are more likely than men to develop AD dementia. A woman's lifetime risk of AD is almost twice that of a man. In fact, two-thirds of the 5.3 million people currently suffering from AD are women. In women at risk for developing AD, subjective memory complaints very common in the perimenopausal years before they develop AD, and memory function steeply declines after menopause.

The role of genetics in developing Alzheimer's disease continues to be extensively investigated, and studies support that late-onset AD is attributed to the having the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene. People inherit one form of the ApoE gene (e2, e3 or e4) from each parent. Those who inherit the e4 form of the ApoE gene from one parent have an increased risk of developing AD, and those who inherit the e4 gene from both parents have an even higher risk of developing AD.

Other risk factors related to Alzheimer's disease include lifestyle factors such as diet, physical and mental exercise. These are pretty easy to modify and may make a difference in your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Lifestyle Factors