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Have your family or friends been afflicted by Alzheimer’s (AD), and do you worry about whether you, or another loved one, might be at risk? If so, we’re here to help.
Around 850,000 people in the UK live with cognitive decline (or ‘dementia’) and over 1 million may be affected by 2025 if we continue at the rate we’re going.[i]
AD is the overriding cause. The most prevalent subtypes are late-onset AD (LOAD), the most common form, which starts during older age (c. 65 years +), and early-onset AD which affects younger individuals (c. 30-65 years).
You may have also heard about the role of genetics, especially the ‘APOE’ gene, causing you more worry about whether you carry the problematic variants (or ‘SNP’s’), which everyone is talking about.[iii] We hope that this blog reassures you that genetics, or APOE, are only one piece of a large, complex jigsaw behind why AD develops, and empowers you with the knowledge of how you can support yourself.
AD develops when two types of protein, amyloid beta (Aβ) and tau, build up within the brain,[iv] causing abnormal structures to form called plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. These injure neural connections, triggering neurodegeneration and dementia.[v]
Apolipoprotein E (ApoE), coded by the APOE gene,[vi] supports the growth and repair of neurons by transporting the essential substrate – cholesterol - around the brain. It also helps regulate the metabolism of Aβ in the brain and lipids in the bloodstream.[vii],[viii] SNPs of the APOE gene are the main genetic risk factor for LOAD, especially the APOE ε4 allele.[ix] Those of us who carry this SNP seems to be more prone to AD related to a tendency towards poorer regulation of Aβ[x]and blood lipids, repair of neurons, and recovery from traumatic brain injury.[xi] These changes contribute to neurotoxicity, reduction in size of brain regions involved in memory (e.g. hippocampus),[xii] and deterioration of cardiovascular health,[xiii] all of which are recognised as driving forces of this disease. However, there are a wide range of other factors, which are well within our control, which can influence how significant this SNP actually becomes for our cognitive and all-round health.
So AD is caused by a conspiracy of different factors, combining together, to drive neurodegeneration and dementia. There’s not one single cause! While on one level this may still seem scary, it is actually empowering because it means that there is much that we can do to help ourselves.
The brand you can talk to:
Or head to our advice page where you can find Healthnotes.
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