Genetic and familial risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease are well known. But there are still several questions that remain unanswered about the causes of this progressive brain disease. Alzheimer’s is a hereditary disorder that kills nerve cells and affects memory, judgment, language, and behavior. It is a fatal disease, and researchers have yet to find a cure.
If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s Disease, there is a good chance that you will develop it as well. However, you have no control over whether or not genes from your parents will affect you or your offspring. You can, however, protect yourself by keeping careful track of your health throughout your life. Consider taking an Alzheimer’s screening test to find out if you are at risk. These tests are available at most pharmacies. They ask about your family history and also about your medical history.
If you have a history of depression and stress in your life, these could be causing the deterioration of your brain. The way you eat affects brain function as well. Omega 3 fatty acids are important to maintain brain cell health. Studies show that these fatty acids are protective against depression and dementia. You can eat foods rich in these fatty acids or take a supplement if you want to benefit from these fatty acids.
There are other genetic and familial risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease. If you are obese, you are at a greater risk of developing the disease. Excessive amounts of caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes put people at higher risk of developing the condition as well. Your gender is also a factor since men are more likely to have the condition than women.
People with family members who have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease may be at higher risk than those without family members who have the condition. Risk factors can also be hereditary. If one or both parents have the condition, the likelihood of their offspring developing it is increased. Risky behavior, such as excessive alcohol consumption, is also a strong genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Certain medications are associated with specific risks for Alzheimer’s Disease. Antidepressants are associated with greater risks for the condition because they cause changes in the serotonin levels in the brain. Medications used to treat hypertension are known to be associated with these changes in the brain. This is why taking medications that control high blood pressure or anticonvulsants are at times given to patients taking certain medications.
Several medications have been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease. Taking drugs to treat heart failure, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, asthma, depression, glaucoma, bipolar disorder, and AIDS may increase the chances of developing the disease. Taking certain types of aspirin, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and certain beta-blockers may also increase the risks of Alzheimer’s Disease. Some studies have shown that taking estrogen with progestin may prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease in women. However, there is still much more research needed to determine if this combination is beneficial for women with Alzheimer’s.
The results of genetic studies of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease provide an important background for diagnosis and treatment. Knowing what the risk factors are and how much each person’s risk factor varies will allow physicians to make appropriate treatment plans. Since everyone has some genetic risk for Alzheimer’s Disease, all patients and their families must be included in genetic studies as a way to get as much information as possible about the disease and to identify how important it is to the prevention and treatment of it.