Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and mental functioning. If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, his or her ability to reason, learn, and communicate declines. The disease can also change his or her personality and behavior, as well as increase anxiety, agitation, and delusion. It is the most common form of dementia, which is the general term for a number of conditions marked by impaired brain functioning. More than 5 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, experts are not sure exactly how Alzheimer’s develops, but there is evidence that it may be linked to the deposit of beta-amyloid protein plaques, or abnormal patches of material in the brain. It isn’t clear yet, however, if the plaques are a cause or a result of Alzheimer’s. While the cause of the disease is still unknown, there are a number of known risk factors including:
-Age: It is a disease of old age. Most people who develop Alzheimer’s are age 65 or older. After the age of 65, the probability of developing Alzheimer’s doubles about every five years. For people over the age 85, this probability is nearly 50%.
-Family History: Another strong risk factor is a family history of the disease, which points to genetic propensity, or even a direct genetic cause, for the condition.
-Head Injury: Suffering a serious head injury can increase future risk for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
-Compromised Cardiovascular System: Your brain cells use 20% of the nutrients and oxygen that are carried in the blood. So having conditions related to the heart or blood vessels, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol, increases the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
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