As the cerebral cortex atrophies, clumps of protein known as “plaques” and “tangles” form in the brain. These plaques and tangles destroy more brain cells, making the condition worse. Neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry nerve impulses within the brain) are also affected.
This NHS Choices web page offers the layman an easy to understand overview of the suspected causes and risk factors of Alzheimer’s Disease. The precise causes and risk factors contributing to the deterioration of brain cells are currently unknown, but several factors are recognised in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. These are:
- Age: the likelihood of developing the condition doubles every five years after you reach 65 years of age.
- Family history: when Alzheimer’s disease is inherited, the symptoms may start to develop at an earlier age (between 35 and 60 years old).
- Down’s syndrome: these individuals are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Chromosome 21 contains a protein found in the brain of those with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Whiplash and head injuries: people having had a severe head injury and / or severe whiplash appear to have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Aluminium: this may be a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease because the plaques and tangles in the brain contain aluminium. Research has so far failed to prove the link between aluminium and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Read more: Alzheimer’s Disease: Causes (NHS Choices).