Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease

It is highly likely that the Alzheimer’s results from a complex and interrelated combination of genetic and non-genetic factors.

These so called risk factors influence a person’s risk to developing Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, each of these risk factors is the subject of a great deal of research around the world.

Genetic Risk Factors

A person’s genetic make up can directly influence the chances for the onset and development of Alzheimer’s. A person’s genes are inherited from their biological parents and passed along family lines to their biological children.

There are two main types of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Familial Alzheimer’s Disease (FAD): is a very rare form of Alzheimer’s Disease which runs in families. Also known as Early Onset Alzheimer’s or Younger Onset Alzheimer’s.

Sporadic Alzheimer’s Disease: is the most common form of Alzheimer’s Disease, but researchers are still trying to work out how this develops. Also known as Late Onset Alzheimer’s.

Mild Cognitive Impairment

The term Mild Cognitive Impairment, or MCI, is increasingly being used to describe a syndrome of memory impairment that does NOT significantly impact daily activities and is not accompanied by declines in overall cognitive function.

Researchers have found that between 6 and 25 percent of people with MCI progress on to Alzheimer’s, which has raised questions about whether MCI might represent some kind of “transitional stage” between normal aging and dementia. Many experts currently believe that MCI, as well as age-related memory loss, may always be an early form of Alzheimer’s, and progression to symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease may be only a matter of time. However, in some people, the progression may be very slow, so the person may die of other causes before displaying the full spectrum of Alzheimer’s symptoms. MCI is recognized as a clinical condition that requires ongoing assessment and possibly treatment to delay its progression.

Research into MCI is continuing.

Korsakoffs Syndrome

Too much alcohol, particularly if associated with a diet deficient in thiamine (Vitamin B1) can lead to irreversible brain damage. This dementia is preventable.

If people don’t drink, or they drink at a safe level, then they cannot develop Alcohol Related Dementia. The most vulnerable parts of the brain are those used for memory, and for planning, organizing and judgment, social skills and balance. If drinking stops drinking there may be some improvement. Taking thiamine appears to help prevent and improve the condition.

Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease
– Mad Cow Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease is also known as Mad Cow Disease. An extremely rare and fatal brain disorder caused by a prion, which is a protein particle. The disease occurs in one in every million people per year.

The early symptoms of this disease include:

    Failing memory
    Changes in behavior
    Lack of coordination
    After which, the disease progresses rapidly, resulting in :
    Pronounced mental deterioration
    Involuntary movements appear
    Person may become blind
    Develop weakness in the arms or legs and finally lapse into a coma

This disease can jump species barriers, and can affect cows, humans, and other animals. The Australian Red Cross (and other Red Cross organizations around the world) expressly forbid anyone who lived in the United Kingdom between the years of 1980 and 1998 to donate blood, because of the higher than average possibility that they consumed beef from slaughtered Mad Cows that entered the human food chain in the UK (in spite of promises and guarantees from numerous UK politicians). It is feared that these people will go on to develop Mad Cow Disease later in life, and if they were allowed to donate blood, that the recipients of this blood could also develop the disease.

Dementia With Lewy Bodies

A significant number of people diagnosed with dementia are found to have tiny spherical structures called Lewy bodies in the nerve cells of their brains. It is thought these may contribute to the death of brain cells. The symptoms of this form of dementia are often mild at the outset and can be extremely variable from day to day.

Common symptoms include

    Fluctuation in the condition
    Visual hallucinations
    Extreme sensitivity to classical anti-psychotic medications leading to marked symptoms of stiffness, tremor and restriction of movement

Dementia with Lewy bodies sometimes occurs with Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular dementia.

Pick’s Disease

Pick’s Disease causes progressive and irreversible decline in a person’s abilities over a number of years. It is a rare disorder of the frontal part of the brain which can be very difficult to diagnose. The disease usually appears between 40 and 65 years of age.

Disturbances of personality, behavior and language may come before, and initially be more severe than, memory defects.

Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s Disease is an inherited degenerative brain disorder which affects the mind and body. Huntington’s Disease affects approximately 7 in every 100,000 people in the western world. The disease usually appears between 30 and 50 years of age. Huntington’s Disease is characterized by intellectual decline and irregular, involuntary movement of the limbs or facial muscles. Other symptoms include:

Types of Dementia

There are many different forms of dementia and each has its own causes. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for between 50% and 70% of all dementias.

The effects of the different types of dementia are similar, but not identical, as each one tends to affect different parts of the brain.

Here are the most common forms of dementia :

AIDS related dementia
Alcohol related dementia

Alzheimer’s disease, has two forms :

Familial Alzheimer’s Disease (FAD), also known as Early Onset Alzheimer’s or Younger Onset Alzheimer’s.
Sporadic Alzheimer’s Disease, also known as Late Onset Alzheimer’s. See section below.

Dementia with Lewy bodies: Another common form of dementia, sharing many similarities with Alzheimer’s disease.

Down syndrome: Research has established a link between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.

Frontal lobe dementia, including Pick’s disease.

Vascular Dementia: The second most common cause of dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of brain disorders that impair a person’s mental functioning, especially memory, thinking, and behavior.

The term dementia literally means loss of mentation or thinking. Dementia is a broad term which describes the loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and normal emotional reactions.

Most people with dementia are older, but it is important to remember that most older people do not get dementia. It is not a normal part of the ageing process. Dementia can happen to anybody, but it is more common in people over 65 years of age. People in their 40s and 50s can also develop dementia.

There are many different forms of dementia and each has its own causes. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for between 50% and 70% of all dementia cases.

Asthma Web Links

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America http://www.aafa.org

Allergy UK http://www.allergyfoundation.com

The National Asthma Council Australia (NAC) http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/

The Lung Association http://www.lung.ca/asthma/

Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) http://www.aanma.org/

GINA – the Global Initiative For Asthma http://www.ginasthma.com/

American Lung Association site http://www.lungusa.org/

The Asthma Society of Canada http://www.asthma.ca/

European Federation of Asthma and Allergy Associations http://www.efanet.org/

Heating, Cooking and Asthma

Dampness in housing has been linked with asthma in some people. Research has also shown that asthma symptoms were harder to control in people with homes without central heating. There is no type of heating that is best for everyone with asthma.

Ducted air heating. No medical research has been carried out on links between this type of heating and asthma. However, expert doctors have seen many patients who they would agree have worse asthma symptoms due to the ducted air heating. This could be because more house-dust mites are breathed as the air is re-circulated. Fan heaters and convectors also move the air and dust around.

Gas heating and cooking. Houses that have gas fires and gas cookers have higher levels of nitrogen dioxide. In some people with asthma nitrogen dioxide may cause other triggers to have slightly more effect on their symptoms. There is no evidence to show whether gas central heating increases asthma symptoms.

Wood and coal fires

Wood and coal fires without adequate flues can cause mild worsening of breathing problems, compared with central heating.

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