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The 12 risk factors of dementia you should know

The 12 risk factors of dementia you should know

Some of the world's leading experts on dementia have pinpointed 12 key risk factors that could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases. 

The 12 risk factors of dementia you should know

The updated reported by the Lancet Commission features three new risk factors, identified by 28 dementia experts.

These new risk factors are excessive alcohol intake and head injury in mid-life and air pollution in later life.

The 12 dementia risk factors are broken up into three life periods:

  • Early life:
    • Less education
  • Mid-life:
    • Hearing loss
    • Hypertension and obesity
    • Excessive alcohol intake
    • Head injury
  • Later life (65+):
    • Smoking
    • Depression
    • Social isolation
    • Physical inactivity
    • Diabetes
    • Air pollution

“We are learning that tactics to avoid dementia begin early and continue throughout life, so it’s never too early or too late to take action,” says Dr Lon Schneider, co-director of the USC Alzeihmer Disease Research Center’s clinical core.

Over 50 million people are affected with dementia worldwide, a number that is predicted to triple by 2050. However, in countries such as United States, England and France, the proportion of older people with dementia appears to have fallen.

These positive statistics are in part due to lifestyle changes, says Schneider, and highlight the importance of understanding preventative measures.

9 ways to reduce the risk of dementia

In light of the new findings, the scientists have identified 9 key interventions to reduce the risk of developing dementia:

  • Aim to maintain systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or less from the age of 40.
  • Encourage use of hearing aids for hearing loss and reduce hearing loss by protecting ears from high noise levels.
  • Reduce exposure to air pollution and second-hand tobacco smoke.
  • Prevent head injury (particularly by targeting high-risk occupations).
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than 21 units per week (one unit of alcohol equals 10 ml or 8 g pure alcohol).
  • Stop smoking and support others to stop smoking.
  • Provide all children with primary and secondary education.
  • Lead an active life into mid-life and possibly later life.
  • Reduce obesity and the linked condition of diabetes.

In addition to these interventions, the report calls for holistic, individualised and evidence-based care of patients with dementia, who are often hospitalised for conditions that may be manageable at home and are at in the at-risk group for COVID-19.

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