Age, family history and heredity are all risk factors we can’t change. Now, research is beginning to reveal clues about other risk factors we may be able to influence.
Head injury: There appears to be a strong link between serious head injury and future risk of Alzheimer’s. Protect your head by buckling your seat belt, wearing your helmet when participating in sports, and “fall-proofing” your home.
Heart-head connection: Some of the strongest evidence links brain health to heart health. Your brain is nourished by one of your body’s richest networks of blood vessels. Every heartbeat pumps about 20 to 25 percent of your blood to your head, where brain cells use at least 20 percent of the food and oxygen your blood carries.
The risk of developing Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia appears to be increased by many conditions that damage the heart or blood vessels. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol. Work with your doctor to monitor your heart health and treat any problems that arise.
General healthy aging: Other lines of evidence suggest that strategies for overall healthy aging may help keep the brain healthy and may even offer some protection against developing Alzheimer’s or related diseases. Try to keep your weight within recommended guidelines, avoid tobacco and excess alcohol, stay socially connected, and exercise both your body and mind.
Visit www.alz.org for more information.