May 4, 2009 -- Question: Are there other medical conditions that might increase my risk of developing Alzheimer's disease?
Answer: When we look at the rates of Alzheimer's disease or of other kinds of dementia, such as dementia associated with strokes in late-life, it's clear that if you have heart disease or elevated cholesterol or certain other kinds of risks, long-term hypertension for example, that you are more likely to develop a dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
So for example, people who have untreated hypertension, or people who have elevated lipids, are more likely to have strokes and strokes themselves lead to loss of thinking function in late-life. There is no direct evidence that Alzheimer's disease itself is caused by the presence of any of these other disorders, but whenever we look at the risk factors for heart disease, it turns out that they all turn out to be risk factors for Alzheimer's disease as well.
That is hypertension, elevated cholesterol, lack of exercise, being overweight, being obese, keeps showing up in our studies of patients as showing an increased association with the development of Alzheimer's disease later in life. So although we haven't proven this for Alzheimer's there are enough good reasons for your heart status, for your general health, to keep a close track of your blood pressure of your lipids, to exercise regularly and to maintain your weight in a normal and healthy range.