Understanding Brain Health

Part 3: Reducing Your Risk

Alzheimer’s disease develops when the risk factors for the disease combine and reach a level that overwhelms the brain’s ability to maintain and repair itself. So reducing as many of the risk factors as you can makes good sense.

Some risk factors you can’t control, such as your genetic makeup and growing older, but there is a lot you can do that may help reduce your risk of getting the disease.

Here are some practical actions you can take to improve your brain health:

  • Challenge your brain
  • Be socially active
  • Protect your head
  • Be physically active
  • Make healthy food choices
  • Know your heath numbers
  • Reduce stress

Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices

By making healthy lifestyle choices, you may be able to reduce your risk and improve your brain’s ability to sustain long-term health.

Will healthy lifestyle choices prevent Alzheimer’s disease? There are no guarantees, but evidence suggests that healthy lifestyles help the brain maintain connections and even build new ones. That means that a healthy brain can withstand illness better.  So take action today.

Aging and Genetics

Two risk factors cannot be controlled:

  • Aging
  • Genetics

The most important risk factor is aging.  A minimum age needs to be reached for Alzheimer’s disease to develop. People do not get the disease in their teenage years or even in their 20s. It is well-established that aging can impair the body’s self-repair mechanisms. And of course, many of the risk factors increase as you age, such as blood pressure, stress, and obesity.

There is no doubt that genetics play a role in the Alzheimer’s disease. Yet, only a small percentage of cases are associated with the specific genes that cause the inherited form of the disease. Risk genes increase the likelihood of developing a disease, but do not guarantee it will happen.

Additional Reading

Research Sheet: Alzheimer's Disease and Risk Factors

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Research Sheet: Alzheimer's Disease and Genetics

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