What are risk factors?
Risk factors are characteristics of the person, lifestyle, environment, and genetic background that contribute to the likelihood of getting a disease. Risk factors on their own are not causes of a disease. Risk factors represent an increased chance, but not a certainty, that Alzheimer’s disease will develop. Similarly, having little or no exposure to known risk factors does not necessarily protect a person from developing the disease.
Some risk factors are modifiable, which means they can be changed (e.g., smoking, high blood pressure); other risk factors are non-modifiable, which means they cannot be changed (e.g., age, genetic makeup).
How can we reduce the risk?
A healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It has been estimated that up to half the cases of Alzheimer’s disease worldwide may be the result of seven key modifiable risk factors: diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, depression, cognitive inactivity or low education, and physical inactivity.