Alzheimer’s is a complex disease. Doctors and scientists don’t know yet exactly what causes it. But we do know that a person’s genes can affect how likely they are to develop the disease. Having certain genes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.
A risk factor is something that increases the chance of getting a disease. For example, smoking is a risk factor for cancer. High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke.
Risk factors can include:
- genes passed down from a parent to a child
- a person’s health habits, like eating unhealthy food or being inactive
- something in a person’s surroundings, like in the air or water
Genetic risk factors are changes or differences in genes that can influence the chance of getting a disease. These risk factors are the reason some diseases run in families.
There are two types of Alzheimer’s disease—late-onset and early-onset. They have different genetic risk factors.