Common Causative Factors Promoting the Onset of Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder and is the commonest form of dementia. This disease is very much a mystery. The disease is characterized by the accumulation of a protein called beta amyloid protein. Amyloid protein is essential and the problems start when the beta fragment splits away from the amyloid protein. The building up of this abnormal protein, produces neuronal tangles and prevents inter neuronal communication. Ultimately, this results in neuronal degeneration. This disease affects millions of people worldwide and is a silent killer. Actually, the changes in the brain begin much earlier than the initial appearance of symptoms.
Loss of Memory
The appearance of Alzheimer’s disease in the family is a frightening prospect because this disease wipes out the entire memory of an individual. There is also gradual decline in cognitive functions. People tend to lead a vegetable existence unaware of what is going on around them. It is also painful for the family members to see somebody dear to them rotting away before their eyes. There is no cure in sight and the existing drugs have not been very helpful. Several factors are involved in promoting the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Ageing tends to promote several health problems. Alzheimer’s disease is one of them. Generally, the disease is seen after the age of 65. As each year advances, the risk for this dementia also increases proportionately. After the age of 85, nearly 50% of the elderly people are affected by this disease. Since there is no way one could arrest ageing, the risk for Alzheimer’s disease also cannot be eliminated. Hence, one should try to slow down ageing through various means such as increased physical activity and diets rich in antioxidants and fiber.
Gender plays a prominent part in the onset of several diseases including Alzheimer’s disease. For example, hypothyroidism affects women more while men are more affected by coronary heart disease. In general, more women than men are affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The reason for this is not clear. It is likely that women live longer compared to men. When women attain menopause, the estrogen levels are very low. Many of the complications of menopause are due to this hormone shortage. Doctors have attempted to overcome this problem through hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT poses several problems suggesting that you cannot tamper with nature. Going bald is not natural because all men do not go bald. On the other hand, all men start losing testosterone as they age. Thus, losing testosterone is natural. Thus, HRT in women and testosterone supplementation in men are not successful. HRT may increase the risk for breast cancer. It is believed that HRT may also increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Another reason why women are susceptible could be due the low levels of testosterone.
It is very rarely that Alzheimer’s disease occurs in younger individuals. Around 5% of people get early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and in these cases, the genes play a part. Obesity and insulin resistance increase inflammatory reactions in the body and this may provoke the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This is one more reason not to become obese. Other risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease are smoking and vitamin deficiencies (B12 and folate). Chronic loss of sleep also promotes Alzheimer’s onset.