One in three cases of dementia could be prevented if more people looked after their brain health throughout life, according to an international study in the Lancet. It lists nine key risk factors including lack of education, hearing loss, smoking and physical inactivity. Here is the complete list:
- Mid-life hearing loss – responsible for 9% of the risk
- Failing to complete secondary education – 8%
- Smoking – 5%
- Failing to seek early treatment for depression – 4%
- Physical inactivity – 3%
- Social isolation – 2%
- High blood pressure – 2%
- Obesity – 1%
- Type 2 diabetes – 1%
These risk factors – which are described as potentially modifiable – add up to 35%. The other 65% of dementia risk is thought to be potentially non-modifiable.
The report, which combines the work of 24 international experts, says lifestyle factors can play a major role in increasing or reducing an individual’s dementia risk. It examines the benefits of building a “cognitive reserve”, which means strengthening the brain’s networks so it can continue to function in later life despite damage.
By 2050, 131 million people could be living with dementia globally. There are estimated to be 47 million people with the condition at the moment. (BBC)