Alzheimer's disease may be preventable by looking for 10 key warning signs – from weight gain to stress

ALZHEIMER'S disease may be preventable – by knowing the key warning signs, experts have claimed.

Weight gain and stress may be key factors but swift action to tackle them could stop dementia later in life, according to new research.

The study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry revealed the ten signs you need to watch out for.

Cognitive activity, high body mass index in late life, depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure were all on the list – as was head trauma.

As well as these, researchers said a good education in early life was also key as is getting enough sleep, correct levels of vitamin C and regular physical activity.

Around 850,000 people in the UK currently have dementia, with two thirds having Alzheimer’s.

The condition is a leading cause of death and there have been no new drug treatments for the condition in 20 years.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

The damage caused to the brain by Alzheimer's disease causes the symptoms commonly associated with dementia.

Indeed, it is the most common trigger for dementia.

Alzheimer's disease is named after the doctor who first described it in medical literature, Alois Alzheimer.

A hallmark of the disease is the build-up of amyloid beta proteins in the brain, to cause plaques.

This results in the loss of connections between nerve cells in the brain, and ultimately the death of those cells and a loss of brain tissue.

Those people living with Alzheimer's also have a shortage of some key chemicals in the brain, which help transmit messages.

A lack of these chemicals means the brain is unable to process some messages as it would previously.

Researchers led by Professor Jin-Tai Yu at Fudan University in China reviewed and analysed 395 studies.

They found 21 proposed suggestions that could be used to try and prevent the illness.

There were “Class 1” suggestions within these which made it into the ten to watch out for.

Nearly two thirds involved risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels – adding further evidence which shows that keeping healthy can help prevent the illness.

Two interventions found in the study were not recommended and these included oestrogen replacement therapy and use of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (drugs that increase communication between nerve cells).

The researchers said this was the largest and most comprehensive study for Alzheimer’s to date.

They concluded: "This study provides an advanced and contemporary survey of the evidence, suggesting that more high-quality observational prospective studies and randomised controlled trials are urgently needed to strengthen the evidence base for uncovering more promising approaches to preventing Alzheimer's disease."

Fiona Carragher, director of research and influencing at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "In recent years, research has suggested that nearly a third of dementia cases may be preventable.

"This review builds on this idea, specifically in relation to Alzheimer's disease and how certain risk factors, many of which are associated with cardiovascular health, may be within our control."

She highlighted that a deeper dive in needed to understand the risk factors.

"This review demonstrates that, while observational studies are useful to help identify potential risk factors, we need to see many more interventional trials to understand what the best approaches are to preventing Alzheimer's disease developing in the first place.

"We don't have all the answers yet, but we do know that small steps to improving your physical and mental health can make a big difference, like walking to your local shop for milk instead of jumping in the car."

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