Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in American adults. It affects more than 5 million Americans and 8 million more people worldwide. According to the U.S. Alzheimer‚ ' s Association, 1 in 8 people age 65 and older (and nearly 1 in 2 people over age 85) have Alzheimer‚ ' s disease.
Age is the primary risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. The number of cases of Alzheimer's disease doubles every 5 years in people over 65. By age 85, almost half of all people are afflicted. People with the disease survive, on average, half as long as similarly aged adults without the disease.
More women than men develop Alzheimer‚ ' s disease but this is most likely because women tend to live longer than men.
People with a family history of Alzheimer's are at higher than average risk for the disease.
Researchers are investigating whether diseases that affect the heart and vascular (blood vessel) system may increase the risk of Alzheimer‚ ' s disease. These conditions include high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and diabetes. There is some evidence that controlling these conditions may help prevent Alzheimer‚ ' s disease.
Clinical trials have evaluated numerous substances for preventing Alzheimer‚ ' s disease but have not found them to be helpful. They included nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), statin drugs, estrogen replacement therapy, and herbal remedies such as ginkgo biloba.
However, certain lifestyle changes may help in Alzheimer‚ ' s disease prevention:
[For more information, see In-Depth Report #43: Heart-healthy diet.]
ADAPT Research Group, Lyketsos CG, Breitner JC, Green RC, Martin BK, Meinert C, et al. Naproxen and celecoxib do not prevent AD in early results from a randomized controlled trial. Neurology. 2007 May 22;68(21):1800-8. Epub 2007 Apr 25.
Aisen PS, Schneider LS, Sano M, Diaz-Arrastia R, van Dyck CH, et al. High-dose B vitamin supplementation and cognitive decline in Alzheimer disease: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2008 Oct 15;300(15):1774-83.
Akomolafe A, Beiser A, Meigs JB, Au R, Green RC, Farrer LA, et al. Diabetes mellitus and risk of developing Alzheimer disease: results from the Framingham Study. Arch Neurol. 2006 Nov;63(11):1551-5.
Alzheimer's Association. 2009 Alzheimer's disease facts and figures. Alzheimers Dement. 2009 May;5(3):234-70.
Ayalon L, Gum AM, Feliciano L, Arean PA. Effectiveness of nonpharmacological interventions for the management of neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients with dementia: a systematic review. Arch Intern Med. 2006 Nov 13;166(20):2182-8.
Birks J, Grimley Evans J. Ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jan 21;(1):CD003120.
Burns A, Iliffe S. Alzheimer's disease. BMJ. 2009 Feb 5;338:b158. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b158.
Burns A, Bernabei R, Bullock R, Cruz Jentoft AJ, Frolich L, Hock C, et al. Safety and efficacy of galantamine (Reminyl) in severe Alzheimer's disease (the SERAD study): a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. Lancet Neurol. 2009 Jan; 8(1): 39-47.
DeKosky ST, Williamson JD, Fitzpatrick AL, Kronmal RA, Ives DG, Saxton JA, et al. Ginkgo biloba for prevention of dementia: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2008 Nov 19;300(19):2253-62.
Durga J, van Boxtel MP, Schouten EG, Kok FJ, Jolles J, Katan MB, et al. Effect of 3-year folic acid supplementation on cognitive function in older adults in the FACIT trial: a randomised, double blind, controlled trial. Lancet. 2007 Jan 20;369(9557):208-16.
Farlow MR, Cummings JL. Effective pharmacologic management of Alzheimer's disease. Am J Med. 2007 May;120(5):388-97.
Fleisher AS, Sun S, Taylor C, Ward CP, Gamst AC, Petersen RC, et al. Volumetric MRI vs clinical predictors of Alzheimer disease in mild cognitive impairment. Neurology. 2008 Jan 15; 70(3):191-9.
Isaac MG, Quinn R, Tabet N. Vitamin E for Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Jul 16;(3):CD002854.
Knopfman DS. Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 425.
Lautenschlager NT, Cox KL, Flicker L, Foster JK, van Bockxmeer FM, Xiao J, et al. Effect of physical activity on cognitive function in older adults at risk for Alzheimer disease: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2008 Sep 3;300(9):1027-37.
Mittelman MS, Haley WE, Clay OJ, Roth DL. Improving caregiver well-being delays nursing home placement of patients with Alzheimer disease. Neurology. 2006 Nov 14;67(9):1592-9.
Morris MC, Evans DA, Tangney CC, Bienias JL, Wilson RS. Associations of vegetable and fruit consumption with age-related cognitive change. Neurology. 2006 Oct 24;67(8):1370-6.
Regan C, Katona C, Walker Z, Hooper J, Donovan J, Livingston G. Relationship of vascular risk to the progression of Alzheimer disease. Neurology. 2006 Oct 24;67(8):1357-62.
Scarmeas N, Stern Y, Mayeux R, Luchsinger JA. Mediterranean diet, Alzheimer disease, and vascular mediation. Arch Neurol. 2006 Dec;63(12):1709-17. Epub 2006 Oct 9.
Small GW, Kepe V, Ercoli LM, Siddarth P, Bookheimer SY, Miller KJ, et al. PET of brain amyloid and tau in mild cognitive impairment. N Engl J Med. 2006 Dec 21;355(25):2652-63.
Sofi F, Cesari F, Abbate R, Gensini GF, Casini A. Adherence to Mediterranean diet and health status: meta-analysis. BMJ. 2008 Sep 11;337:a1344. doi: 10.1136/bmj.a1344.
Willis SL, Tennstedt SL, Marsiske M, Ball K, Elias J, Koepke KM, et al. Long-term effects of cognitive training on everyday functional outcomes in older adults. JAMA. 2006 Dec 20;296(23):2805-14.
Wilson RS, Krueger KR, Arnold SE, Schneider JA, Kelly JF, Barnes LL, et al. Loneliness and risk of Alzheimer disease. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007 Feb;64(2):234-40.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885