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Major Dementia Risk Factors

Posted on February 2, 2009 by DementiaGuide

Dementia Risk Factors Aside from Age

Additional Dementia Risk Factors to Consider

It is clear that the main dementia risk factor is age, but what are the other major dementia risk factors to consider?

The risk of dementia goes up significantly with advancing age. About 3% of men and women between the ages of 65 and 74 suffer from dementia, but after age 65, the percentage of people with dementia approximately doubles with every decade of life. Here are other dementia risk factors to consider:

Smoking and Alcohol Use: Several recent studies have found that smoking significantly increases the risk of mental decline and dementia. People who smoke have a higher risk of atherosclerosis and other types of vascular disease, which are also considered dementia risk factors and may be the underlying causes for the increased dementia risk.

Atherosclerosis: Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaque - deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, and other matter - in the inner lining of an artery. Atherosclerosis is a significant risk factor for vascular dementia, because it interferes with the delivery of blood to the brain and can lead to stroke. Strokes are one of the major dementia risk factors.

Genetics/Family History: Researchers have discovered a number of genes that increase the risk of developing dementia. Although people with a family history of dementia are generally considered to be at heightened risk of developing the disease themselves, many people with a family history never develop the disease, and many without a family history of the disease do get it. In most cases, it is still impossible to predict a specific person's risk of the disorder based on family history alone. However, genetics and family history has been found to be one of the dementia risk factors to consider.

Cholesterol: High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called bad form of cholesterol, appear to significantly increase a person's risk of developing vascular dementia. Some research has also linked high cholesterol to an increased risk of AD.

Diabetes: Diabetes is one of the dementia risk factors for vascular dementia. It is also a known risk factor for atherosclerosis and stroke, both of which contribute to vascular dementia. People who suffer severe or repeated head injuries are at increased risk of developing dementia. It is possible that a head injury may trigger the disease process in susceptible individuals.

Serious Head Injuries: People who have sustained serious head injuries are prone to a type of dementia, known as dementia pugilistica. Dementia puglistica, (the so called 'punch-drunk syndrome') develops in some boxers and is not as common as other dementia risk factors.

Other dementia risk factors are education Level (lower education has been associated with dementia), untreated infectious and metabolic disease and substance abuse, brain tumors, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, liver disease, thyroid disease, and vitamin deficiencies (B12, folic acid, thiamine).

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