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AD is a condition that many elderly patients are at a risk for developing but it is something that occurs secondary to years of damage from other chronic conditions. There are many common risk factors that you can change now to reduce the chances of AD.

Alzheimer's Disease is a degenerative condition in which patients experience a worsening of their memory, movement, and ability to live independently. Although the true mechanism behind this degeneration is still unknown even with modern medicine, we have been able to identify a few of the most common risk factors that can be linked to the disease.

Here, we will focus on the top seven modifiable risk factors — those you can control to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. 

Diabetes 

Diabetes is one of the most common causes of brain degradation. On the surface, the link may not be obvious. You may think that diabetes is a condition that deals with a sugar imbalance. This is true, but it is much more than that.

Sugar is a substance that we need for energy, but when levels skyrocket like in diabetes, sugar becomes a toxin. The damage of sugar is initially most noticeable in smaller blood vessels, because this is where vessels will have the smallest diameter. When this damage occurs, vessels are not able to move blood as effectively and then the tissue will start to die. These vessels are in the brain as well, and tissue death here will lead to a faster degradation of the brain. 

Hypertension 

When you are diagnosed with hypertension, it may come as a surprise to you because in the early stages of this condition, you will not have any symptoms at all. Even at this stage, though, irreversible damage starts to occur in the organs throughout your body.

Increased pressure can be destructive to tissue, especially in the brain and the heart. This is the main reason why hypertension is referred to as "the silent killer". Patients will go years without even knowing they have the disease and may only see a doctor after having a heart attack or a stroke.

It is important for you to visit with your family doctor annually to check your blood pressure and then try lifestyle modifications if you are diagnosed with the disease. Dietary changes like low salt and losing some weight are by far the most effective ways to help reduce your blood pressure. Medications are also available and frequently used should dieting alone not be helpful enough. 

Obesity 

Another significant cause of brain damage likely seen in Alzheimer's disease is obesity. Lipids and fat in the blood can be toxic and lead to atherosclerosis. With the frequency of obesity expected to increase worldwide in the next decade, especially in the pediatric population, numerous conditions like Alzheimer's disease, heart attacks, and strokes will become quite prevalent in the next few years. Patients with obesity also have a much higher rate of diabetes and hypertension so there will be a synergistic effect. 

Smoking 

Another very dangerous habit that anyone should avoid if they wish you reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer's would be smoking. Cigarettes are laced with an alarming number of dangerous toxins that can damage organs throughout the body.

The lungs, heart and brain are most severely damaged after smoking. The addictive nature of nicotine makes this a behavior that is hard to break, but one that should be tried no matter what. Although the medical data is currently lacking on the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping, preliminary data shows that these new alternatives to cigarette smoking are also dangerous. Don't be fooled by marketing campaigns — the only reason they are marketed as safer at the moment is that long-term studies showing the dangers of these products are still being conducted. 

Low education or cognitive disability 

Another factor you need to watch out for when it comes to risk factors for Alzheimer's disease would be a low education level. Numerous studies have shown that low education levels predispose a person to a more rapid brain decline. As the old phrase goes, "if you don't use it, you lose it." This is exactly what happens when it comes to the brain.

If you don't frequently try to learn new things you stimulate your brain, the tissue will start to die off because it is not being used. A good way to try to prevent this from happening would be to read frequently, take courses, or even study a new language. Numerous studies have shown the beneficial effects of picking up a new language even at an older age, because it requires multiple parts of the brain to be active at once. Stimulating the brain will help prevent the neurons from dying off — so keep studying. 

Depression 

Low mood levels have been linked to Alzheimer's disease in numerous studies. Research has shown that depression is one of the main symptoms of late-stage Alzheimer's, but it can even conryibute to the development of the disease if you have it at a younger age.

Brain damage can occur for many reasons. Low moods will make you less likely to exercise, so you have a higher risk of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Depression also causes a brain chemistry imbalance that can also become very stressful for the brain tissue. Making sure that you meet with a specialist if you notice a low mood, low appetite, problems with concentration or difficulty sleeping can help diagnose depression at an earlier stage. Treating depression through medications is a very effective strategy that can be used to stop these symptoms. 

A sedentary lifestyle 

Another predisposing factor that will put you at a higher risk of Alzheimer's would be low physical activity. The link between your health and exercise has long been established but there is also a strong link between brain health and physical activity. Exercise is a great way to help regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, and mood. As you may have noticed already, these are all risk factors linked to Alzheimer's disease.

Exercise can also help reduce stress, another strong risk factor linked to brain degradation. Frequent aerobic exercise at least four days a week for 30 minutes a day can go a long way. 

The good news? All these risk factors are controllable — if you have any, you can take steps to manage them and reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease. Make sure you visit your doctors annually to start screening for these conditions that can lead to Alzheimer's in the future. 

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