More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and nearly 35 million have dementia. Sometimes this frightening disease comes on quickly without many warning signs. However, researchers are identifying some clues to Alzheimer’s that you should know about.
It’s a devastating brain disease that robs people of their memories, but now researchers are uncovering new risk factors.
1.) The first: high blood sugar, not just diabetes as previously thought.
“What we found was even far into the normal range, that higher levels of blood sugar were associated with a slightly increased risk of developing dementia,” Dr. Paul K. Crane, MPH, Associate Professor, Internal Medicine, UW Medicine.
Researchers from the University of Washington studied more than 2,000 people and found those with higher glucose levels over five years had an 18 percent greater risk of dementia.
“The mechanism question is fascinating, and we don’t know why,” Dr. Crane said.
2.) Another study found middle-aged people with high systolic blood pressure, which is the top number, were more likely to have biomarkers of Alzheimer’s in their spinal fluid.
Every 10 point rise in pressure caused the average level of a protein—called tau—to increase.
3.) How you walk may also be a clue to Alzheimer’s. Mayo Clinic scientists found a slowed walking pace and shortened stride were associated with a decline in mental skills and memory.
4.) Depression is linked to Alzheimer’s – especially if you have both depression and diabetes.
“That dramatically increases your risk by over two-fold,” said Dr. Wayne J. Katon, Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington Medical School.
5.) The last clue lies in your chest. Studies show as much as 80 percent of people with Alzheimer’s also have heart disease. The best advice is to stay active, stay healthy to help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
A study just out suggests that apathy in older people can also be an early sign of dementia.