For the majority of cases of young-onset Alzheimer’s disease, what causes the condition is a complex mix of factors and likely to be a combination of our lifestyles and genes.

Can I inherit young-onset Alzheimer’s?

In most cases the answer is no. Directly inherited or ‘familial’ forms of Alzheimer’s are very rare.

Several genes have been found that play a role in the development of inherited or familial Alzheimer’s, which tends to affect people before the age of 65. Mistakes in these genes (called mutations) can cause the build-up of amyloid in the brain. Amyloid is a toxic protein that causes Alzheimer's.

If someone has a strong family history of Alzheimer’s disease at a young age, a doctor may suggest genetic testing for close relatives and refer them on for genetic counselling. For more information, see our information about genes and dementia here.

Can I reduce my risk of Alzheimer's?

Some of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease are the same as for heart disease and stroke. By leading a healthy lifestyle and looking after our brain health, you will be helping lower your risk of Alzheimer’s.

To keep your brain healthy:

  • don’t smoke
  • drink fewer than 14 units of alcohol per week
  • keep active and exercise regularly
  • eat a healthy balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight
  • keep cholesterol and blood pressure under control.

Some studies suggest that an active social life and keeping your mind active, with lots of interests and hobbies, can also be beneficial for our brain health.

Find out more about reducing your risk of dementia.

 

Early-onset Alzheimer's

This leaflet aims to give an introduction to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. It’s for anyone who might be worried about themselves or somebody else.

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Order health information

Alzheimer’s Research UK has a wide range of information about dementia. Order booklets or download them from our online form.

This information was updated in March 2020 and is due for review in March 2022. It does not replace any advice that doctors, pharmacists or nurses may give you. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.

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Dementia Research Infoline

Want to know more about dementia? Keen to get involved in research studies?

Contact the Dementia Research Infoline,

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infoline@alzheimersresearchuk.org