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Categories > Brain and Nervous System Disorders > Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

Is Alzheimer’s in your future?

We know that being older and having a family history of Alzheimer’s disease increase your risk of developing the condition, but it turns out that some surprising factors like abstaining from alcohol also play a role. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and other institutions have created a new risk index that can predict whether people ages 65 and older have a high risk of developing the disease. The 15-point scale rates common Alzheimer’s risk factors and less well-known factors like being underweight, not drinking alcohol, having had coronary bypass surgery and being slow to perform physical tasks like buttoning a shirt. Of the 3,375 participants in the study, none of whom showed signs of dementia at the start, 480 developed dementia within six years. Fifty-six percent of those who had a high score on the index developed dementia. Twenty-three percent of those with moderate scores and just 4 percent of those with low scores did. This tool could help identify high-risk individuals and let them get a jump start on prevention, and can make a difference for those without traditional Alzheimer’s risk factors who could begin treatments to maintain their thinking and memory skills longer.