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What are the causes and risk factors for Alzheimer's disease?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

No one knows what causes Alzheimer's disease but genetics are believed to play a role as roughly 5 and 15 percent of all cases develop within families. The main risk factor for Alzheimer's disease is increased age. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and diabetes. However, the specifics are still unclear.

The causes of Alzheimer's disease are mysterious, but much has been learned about how it develops and its consequences.

Alzheimer's affects a person's memory, thought processes and language ability.

As the disease progresses, even rudimentary actions such as swallowing can become impaired or, sometimes even impossible.

Alzheimer's shrinks the brain and destroys some of the brain's 100 billion neurons.

It was named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who in 1906 discovered unexpected changes in the brain matter of a deceased patient, who before her death had exhibited many of the now recognized symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.