Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Alzheimer's disease health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

Alzheimer's disease: Causes and risk factors

Risk factors

Experts still don't fully understand why some people develop problems with their brains leading to Alzheimer's disease.

Factors that may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease include:

  • Age. The risk of developing Alzheimer's disease increases with age. Around one in 6 people over 80 years of age are affected by the disease.
  • Gender. Alzheimer's disease affects women more frequently than men.
  • Family history. If a close family member has Alzheimer’s disease a person’s risk of developing it themselves is increased. However, this does not mean a person will definitely develop the disease too. A less common type of Alzheimer’s disease that starts before age 65 may be directly inherited.
  • Down’s syndrome. People with Down’s syndrome often develop Alzheimer's disease in their 30s and 40s, although the exact reason is not known.
  • Head injury. Some studies have shown a link between Alzheimer's disease and a previous severe head injury.
  • Environmental toxins. Some researchers suspect that increased exposure to certain substances, such as aluminium, may make a person more susceptible to Alzheimer's disease. However, a confirmed link between aluminium exposure and Alzheimer’s disease has not been established.
  • Low education level. Although the reason is not clearly understood, some studies have shown that low education levels can be related to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Smoking: Smokers have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Other factors. Research suggests that high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure (factors linked to heart disease and strokes) may also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's.


Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on May 09, 2016

Mind, body & soul newsletter

Looking after your
health and wellbeing.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman blowing nose
How to tell the difference
smiling baby
Causes and remedies
bowl of soup
Small changes that lead to weight loss
boy looking at broccoli
Simple tips for feeding fussy eaters
cold sore
How to cope with cold sores
boy coughing
Treatments for cold and fever
bain illustration
Best foods for your brain
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning for a healthy home
avacado on whole wheat crackers
Plenty to choose from
woman looking at hair
What your hair says about your health