REVIEW – February 2014

Risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease

Authors: Ülla Linnamägi

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Alzheimer`s disease (AD) is a disease whose pathogenetic process can not be inhibited with the use of contemporary knowledge. It is known that disease specific alterations in the brain develop several decades before the appearance of the first symptoms. Hence the aim can only be preventing or postponing the onset of the symptoms of AD and delaying or slowing down its progression. The common risk factors for AD include age, low education, smoking, depression, and low social engagement. At present, epidemiological evidence suggests possible association of consumption of fish, monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids with reduced risk of AD. Recent prospective studies have provided more evidence that higher adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet could be associated with reduced risk of AD. Other protective factors include alcohol and coffee drinking in midlife, as well as cognitive and physical activity. Interaction between numerous factors has proved to be a risk factor namely in presence of particular risk genes. Midlife smoking, diabetes and hypercholesterolaemia were associated with an increased risk of dementia and AD later in life only among those individuals who are carrying the ApoE ε4 allele. Evidently, development of AD is a consequence of the interaction between genetic factors and lifestyle.