Affecting millions, many are eager to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Although we now know more than ever before, we still do not fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s. Without this information, it makes possible cures more complicated. Not only are there some distinct unknowns, but there appears to be a range of causes.
Individuals who suffer from early-onset, for instance, are believed to suffer from a genetic mutation. Others are believed to develop Alzheimer’s based on a combination of factors, including lifestyle and environmental factors. To make it even more complex, each individual is unique and the reason behind the development of symptoms can vary from person to person.
Some of the Key Causes of Alzheimer’s
Although there’s a lot we still do not know, there’s plenty that we have uncovered. While focusing on both genetic and environmental factors, there are a variety of possible causes. It is clear that Alzheimer’s develops based on events that occur in the brain over time.
As mentioned, everyone is unique in terms of their genetic make-up and lifestyle choices, meaning preventative measures differs across the population. The following possible causes of Alzheimer’s include factors that make individuals more susceptible to the development of this disease.
Changes in the Brain Due to Aging
Your risk of Alzheimer’s significantly goes up within your later years which is actually one of the greatest mysteries regarding the onset of this disease. Research that’s been compiled in terms of normal brain aging is starting to provide some key clues.
We’re now learning how various age-related changes in the brain potentially contribute to the damage experienced within Alzheimer’s. Some of the possible changes that cause this disease include free radical damage, poor energy production, inflammation, and shrinking brain parts.
Genetics is a highly complex topic that offers incredible insight into the human species. The majority of Alzheimer’s patients experience late-onset, meaning their symptoms develop after the age of 60. Researchers have linked this form of Alzheimer’s to the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene which increases one’s risk.
It’s important to note, just because you carry this gene does not mean that you will develop Alzheimer’s and those who do not have the gene at all can still develop Alzheimer’s as well. As mentioned, early-onset familial Alzheimer’s has been linked to genetics and is often passed down from parent to child.
There are various lifestyle factors which increase one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Based on research, there’s specific interest regarding the relationship between vascular conditions and cognitive decline. For example, those that have suffer from heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension are all at an increased risk. Research is still ongoing, however, maintaining an active and balanced lifestyle seems to significantly decrease your risk.
NIH. (2014). About Alzheimer’s Disease: Causes. National Institute on Aging. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/topics/causes