Dementia: 7 Risk Factors Most People Don’t Know

Around one-third of dementia cases are avoidable.

Around one-third of dementia cases are avoidable.

Half of all adults in the UK cannot identify a single risk factor for dementia, a survey reveals.

Many people surveyed thought dementia was inevitable, however it is possible to reduce the risk.

Around one-third of dementia cases are thought to be avoidable.

Six of the risk factors are:

  • high blood pressure,
  • heavy drinking,
  • genetics,
  • smoking,
  • depression,
  • and diabetes.

One of the main protective factors against dementia is exercise (lack of exercise being the seventh risk factor).

Sue Strachan, 63, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2014, said:

“I wasn’t very fit when I was diagnosed with dementia and my GP advised me to take up exercise to try to manage my condition.

I do wish I’d started earlier, because good heart health can have such a positive impact on the brain.

I can see that society’s view of dementia is improving, but I still experience misunderstanding about the condition – not least that there’s nothing that can be done to help.

We must make sure people are informed about dementia, so they’re more likely to engage with advances in research that could make such a positive difference to people’s lives in future.”

Alzheimer’s Research UK surveyed 2,361 people about the risk factors for dementia.

Just over half knew someone with dementia.

Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“It is a sad truth that more people are affected by dementia than ever before and half of us now know someone with the condition.

Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer but only half of people recognise it even causes death, and almost half of UK adults are unable to name one of seven known risk factors for dementia including smoking, high blood pressure and heavy drinking.”

→ Read on: 12 ways to prevent 40% of dementia cases.

The survey was conducted by Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.

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