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What is the main cause of Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer's disease is thought to be caused by the abnormal build-up of proteins in and around brain cells. Several factors are known to increase your risk, including (1) Age, (2) Family history, (3) Down's syndrome, (4) Head injuries, (5) Cardiovascular disease, (6) Loneliness or social isolation, (7) Sedentary lifestyle, (8) Untreated depression, and (9) Hearing loss.

The proteins responsible for Alzheimer’s disease are amyloid and tau.

An amyloid is a form of plaque, which is around brain cells.

Depositions that form tangles within brain cells are called tau.

However, scientists around the world are still not certain what causes this process to start.

It is known that it begins as early as the age of 18.

As mentioned above, there are several risk factors that increase your chances of developing the disease.

Table of Content
1. Age
2. Family history
3. Down's syndrome
4. Head injuries
5. Cardiovascular disease
6. Loneliness or social isolation
7. Sedentary lifestyle
8. Untreated depression
9. Hearing loss
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About the Author

1. Age

One factor that we can not influence is age. On top of that, age is the most significant factor. The chances of developing Alzheimer's disease doubles every 5 years after reaching 65.

Besides, even younger people can live with the disease. For instance, one in 20 people is diagnosed under the age of 65.

Every person diagnosed under the age of 65 has so-called early-onset Alzheimer’s.
According to the CDC (2020) “5.7 million Americans are estimated to be living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018”.

2. Family history

Genes are a contributing factor to developing Alzheimer’s. There is one single gene, which when inherited from your parents, increases the risk.

However, this is just happening in a few families.

Therefore, the actual risk of developing it due to inheritance is small.

In case a lot of your family members were diagnosed with the condition, make sure to visit an Alzheimer’s screening. In addition, you may want to seek professional advice.

In my “All you need to know guide” you can find information about the symptoms, financial obligations, and, ultimately, when plus how people die from the disease.

3. Down's syndrome

Individuals with Down’s syndrome are at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. They are at higher risk because of the genetic fault Down’s syndrome causes.

Amyloid plaques are more likely to build up.

Over time the accumulation of the amyloid plaques causes Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Head injuries

Anyone, who had a severe head injury, could have a higher risk of developing the condition. However, there is more research effort needed to verify this claim.

You can read the latest research on PubMed.

5. Cardiovascular disease

There is enough research gathered that proves that several factors associated with cardiovascular disease can lead to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.

Such factors include:

Factors associated with cardiovascular disease that lead to Alzheimer’s disease
5 Factors
1. Obesity
2. Smoking
3. Diabetes
4. High blood pressure
5. High cholesterol

However, you can change several things like your behavior to reduce the risks.

Such changes can include:

Factors associated with decreased Alzheimer’s risk
8 Factors
1. Stop smoking
2. Eat healthily
3. Have a balanced die
4. Lead a mentally active life*
5. Do physical exercises
6. Reduce alcohol consumption
7. Go to Alzheimer’s screening
8. Go to other health check-ups

As you can see, there are various things you can change immediately.

Some of them do not even cost money.

All that is required is your decision and dedication to a preventative lifestyle.

6. Loneliness or social isolation

Loneliness describes the perceived quality of one's relationships. For example, you can feel lonely even though you have many friends. This can be caused by various reasons. One of them is feeling like not sharing the same values as the others.

Isolation is the number of relationships. How many friends does one have? Therefore, it is not about the quality of the relationships.

Both the feeling of Loneliness and social isolation can increase the risks of developing Alzheimer’s.

You can reduce this risk by choosing your friends wisely. To do that you need to know your own values and you need to evaluate whether your friend’s values are matchable.

7. Sedentary lifestyle

There are various studies, even during the COVID pandemic, that proves that our daily life becomes more attached to our seats.

A sedentary lifestyle is connected to a higher chance of becoming obese. Not taking part in sports activities goes hand in hand with a sedentary lifestyle, too.

Due to the comorbid diseases that come with a sedentary lifestyle, the chances of developing Alzheimer’s increase.

The good thing about this risk factor is that you have it in your hands.

All you need to do is stand up.

Quite literally.

Take regular breaks from your office chair or chair at home and walk around.

8. Untreated depression

The latest research suggests that untreated depression can be a direct or indirect factor that causes Alzheimer’s.

Therefore, in case you feel down, guilty or sad for a longer time, make sure to see a therapist.

They can help you catch a yet untreated depression with something called Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).

Once you filled the self-report the therapist can recommend a course of treatment.

Therapies that can help against depression are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, etc.

9. Hearing loss

The last factor on my list of risk factors is the loss of hearing. Individuals with hearing loss are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease when compared to people with normal hearing.

Especially men seem to have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s due to loss of hearing.

For me, this factor was very surprising. How about you?

So there you have it. Nine factors contribute to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. A disease that is ultimately fatal.

Maybe you think differently about the jobs in the office, now.

I certainly do

List of Resources

Patric Pförtner

B. Sc. Psychology

Hi, my name is Patric Pfoertner and I graduated 2020 from the NBU. Currently, I work and study in Germany. My specialisations are Cognitive Psychology paired with a good slack of Clinical Psychology. Just this year I started publishing my research in the CBB Journal. Feel free to read about it at ResearchGate. Otherwise, click the other button to read my full CV.

About Author ResearchGate

P.S.: I am available for psychological consultation, too.