As an aging population, there is a national concern on the rising risks of developing brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Statistics show that half a million people in the UK are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. However, there are variable factors that are surprising when it comes to understanding the disease. We explore just 5 hidden factors you may not know about Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s can develop as young as 30
Alzheimer’s doesn’t just affect the over 65’s, in fact, there are cases with people in the 30-50 age bracket that develop Alzheimer’s. It is estimated that there are 42,325 people in the UK who have been diagnosed with young onset Dementia.
Medics are still unsure as to why early on-set Alzheimer’s is affecting the population, yet it can be contributed to many factors. Few things are known about the disease for this age group, and there are even fewer specialised services to treat these particular patients.
Sleep quality can affect the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Research has shown that disrupted sleep may be associated with a higher risk of early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. This could mean that sleeping badly is an early warning sign of someone developing Dementia. Poor sleep could either be a symptom of Dementia, or a cause — or perhaps, both could be true?
New research shows that Alzheimer’s disease can be spotted through simply eye test
US scientists at the Duke Eye Centre in North Carolina tested to see if brain changes can be seen in the retina. The scientists found that the retina was thinner in people with Alzheimer’s and they had lost more small blood vessels at the back of the eye. This research suggests, that it’s possible Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed long before symptoms are shown, and the disease can be tackled earlier than what has been previously investigated.
Dr Sharon Fekrat at the Duke Eye Centre says “If we can detect these blood vessel changes in the retina before any changes in cognition, that would be a game changer.”
Are men and women are more likely to develop Dementia?
In the UK 61% of people with Dementia are female and 39% are male. This is partly due to the fact that women live longer than men, and as Dementia becomes more common as we age, more women develop the condition.
Brain scans tell us that the rate at which brain cells are dying in the brain is faster in women than in men. Another figure shows at the age of 65 women have one in six chances of developing the disease compared with a 1 in 11 chance for men.
Every three minutes someone in the UK develops Dementia
This shocking statistic shows just how important it is, that enough funding should be available to conduct studies that focus on brain diseases. It’s becoming increasingly likely that these figures will rise in the next few decades. Last year the charity Alzheimers research UK advised the UK government to triple dementia research spending.
There is an increased focus on uncovering the multiple factors that can affect the chances of developing a brain disease. With an increase in funding, we can gain more concrete knowledge of the factors that affect Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Charities such as Dementia Friends and the Alzheimer’s society are here to support and educate people who are living with dementia and Alzheimer’s as well as the families involved. To find out more, read our latest blog articles here.