Most common form of dementia
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. The term dementia is used to define brain diseases related to memory loss and diminished cognitive skills. Other types of dementia include:
- vascular dementia
- dementia with Lewy bodies
- mixed dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
An estimated five million Americans now have AD, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Women have a higher risk
Nearly twice as many women have AD as men, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. AD also worsens more quickly in women than it does in men.
Brain shrinkage tends to be more severe in women with AD than in men with the disease. Researchers suggest that brain changes in women with AD may be due to other causes.
Your heart and your head are closely related
Heart disease can raise your risk of getting AD. Other conditions that cause heart disease are also linked to a higher risk of getting AD, including:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- poor diet
- non-active lifestyle
Heart disease may also be a cause of vascular dementia, which results from narrowed blood vessels in the brain. This leads to a decrease in oxygen to brain tissues.
Education can lower your risk
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the more education you have, the lower your risk of getting AD. You have lower odds of getting AD if you keep your brain active in old age by doing activities such as:
- taking classes
- learning languages
- playing musical instruments
Doing group activities or interacting with others also may lower your risk.