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What Makes Some Have a Higher Risk for Alzheimer's? – Greensboro, NC

- Monday, July 18, 2016

More than 300 riders geared up to raise awareness for those suffering from Alzheimer's.

Bike riders pedaled across South Carolina in the "Ride to Remember" this past weekend.

The race came on the heels of new research promising to give those with a family history of the disease a heads up about their potential risk later in life.

"Several times a day, I'm telling a patient and their family for the first time that they have Alzheimer's disease,” said Dr. James Davis, medical director for memory health at GHS.

Researchers say Alzheimer’s disease is impacting 5.4 million people in the U.S. this year.

"It's more expensive than cancer, and heart disease you think of all the caregivers that quite their jobs - you think about the economic impact on the family of providing care in a nursing home or providing care in the home."

A new study published in the journal Neurology took a group of healthy adults, ages 18 to 35, and divided them up based on their risk factors for the disease.

"They identified a group that had increased risk factors for Alzheimer's based on identifying certain genes, and then they measured the size of the Hippocampus of the two groups. They found that on average the size of the Hippocampus was smaller of those individuals who had genetic risk."

The Hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls memory - the study suggesting a link between the size and the risk factor.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and I feel like it's closeted disease. Just having our bikers go across the state and let other people know that people are dealing with this, we can be a good resource for them.

Alzheimer's impacts 5.2 million people ages 65 and older, and though this new indicator is easy for younger people to see, Dr. Davis says to be careful what answers you go looking for.

We don't have a cure for Alzheimer's disease, are you going to live with the knowledge that you are maybe at higher risk? and maybe it won't be true but every day you have to live with the fact that you took that test.

For more information on Alzheimer’s care, contact Spring Arbor.