What are the risk factors of Alzheimer’s Disease?


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Created at29 September 2021
Update21 March 2023

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What are the risk factors of Alzheimer’s Disease?

September is marked with Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Day. This day allows us to be mindful of Alzheimer’s disease’s risks and to take measures or preventive actions. We have a wrong perception that Alzheimer’s chooses only people in advanced age, and it is nothing to do with young and healthy ones. Is it so simple?

Sultan Tarlaci, MD, Professor of Neurology at NPISTANBUL Brain Hospital shared his medical opinion on this topic.

Female are at hazard

It is well-known fact that the first and the most pivotal risk factors is age. Older people are generally more vulnerable in all times. The older the person gets, the greater the risk is. Apart from age, there is another hazardous factor – sex. Females tend to be at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than males. Recent studies have shown that 9-15 people out of 100 aged 65 are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and 15-20 people out of 100 aged 75 are diagnosed with this disorder. People who are older than 85 have the highest risk of all cohort groups: 30-40 diagnosed people out of 100. Several chronic diseases could also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, for instance, cardio-vascular disorders, traumatic brain injuries, etc.

The role of environment

“People often tend to think that only genetics or genetic predisposition inherit the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, but this is not true,” – continues the doctor. “We may encounter young patients diagnosed with this disease and it is probably caused bu genetics.” However, genetic predisposition and gene mutations are responsible only for 1 % of all cases. Strange to say, but envirnoment and our lifestyle have far more enormous impact on our health in general. It should be also stressed out that genetics cannot guarantee you fully healthy or unhealthy life, it will depend on many factors. 

Concomitant diseases

There are undeniable factors that seriously affect overall health condition and might trigger Alzhiemer’s disease, they are as follows: imbalanced nutrition, obsesity, high levels of homocysteine and cholesterol, unhealthy habits, alcohol or drugs intake and abuse, uncontrolled hypertension, chronic depression, traumatic brain injuries, types II diabetes, intake of some medications, polluted air and water, the lack of intellectually demanding activity, the absence of hobbies, other chronic diseases. Therefore, even if a person is genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease, it does not mean that he or she will develop it for sure. As it was mentioned above, to develop Alzheimer’s disease a genetic factor on its own is quite negligible.

Weapon agains Alzheimer’s  

“Good news are in a possibility of dicreasing the risk of developing this disorder by means of a preventive approach and healthy lifestyle,” – continues Professor Tarlaci. “First, our brain is in need of constant intelectually demanding activity, learning and improving existing skills. That is why, learning foreign languages, studying a new subject, travelling will be of much help. Besides, physical exercises could take an essential role among possible preventive actions.”

Top 5 recommendations from Professor of Neurology

Professor Tarlaci has given 5 pieces of advice that can be of a great use in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.  

10 minutes rule

At least 10 minutes of physical exercises should be done every day on a regular basis. Low intensity work-outs or aerobic activity will not only improve your mood and make you energetic, but it also has a positive impact on the functions of your brain. Clinical trials have revealed that low-intensity cardio activity improves the blood circulation.

Physical activity

Physical activity enables better expression of subventricular stem cells, which directly affects brain functioning. Any low-intensity work-out increases the speed of blood flow up to 7-8%. This happens due to the increasing level of oxygen. Therefore, any physical activity that is fine with you has a benifitial effect on your brain.


“Do you use left hand to brush your teeth? What about combing your hair? It basically doesn’t matter”, says the professor of neurology. “What important is that you need to change your hands while doing daily routine things like combing hair or brushing your teeth.” Every day we perform daily activities, we do them automatically, unconsciously. Human brain starts performing better when we challenge it. Thus, the doctor recommend all right-handed people to use their left hands while brushing teeth or combing hair from time to time, and vice versa.

Reading books

It may sound naïve but reading books is also a good example of mentally stimulating activity. Regardless of age, it helps to keep memory and analytical skills intact. Recent findings add to growing evidence that mental activities or intellectually demanding activities like reading books or doing crossword puzzles may help to preserve brain health and postpone symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Needless to say, we should vote for books containing new knowledge, terminology. People who participate in mentally challenging activities most often have a slower rate of decline in memory compared to those who don’t engage in such activitites.

Art and philosophy  

Simple repetative information is no use for our brain. In order to build new brain cells and form new connections our mind should be busy with intellectually demanding adctivities. You may choose books on philosophy or art. Initially, you will feel difficult to get used to that kind of activity, but later your brain will accept this as the new normal. Based on this, people shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading or low-intensity work-outs.

There are several disturbing symptoms that can be sings of decline in memory and early dementia:

  1. Persistent forgetfulness
  2. Difficulty in learning
  3. Disorientation
  4. Memory loss or decline in memory

Thus, in case you notice some of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor.