Dementia Risk Factors
Researchers have identified several dementia risk factors that affect the likelihood of developing one or more kinds of dementia. Some of these risk factors for dementia are modifiable, while others are not. Examples of dementia risk factors include having a family history of dementia, smoking, having high cholesterol, and drinking large amounts of alcohol.
An Overview of Dementia Risk Factors
Scientists have found a number of risk factors for dementia. While these are not causes of dementia, they may increase a person's chances of developing the symptoms referred to collectively as dementia. Some dementia risk factors can be treated or controlled and some cannot. Also, certain risk factors are more likely to increase the risk for certain types of dementia. For example, the risk of vascular dementia is strongly correlated with risk factors for stroke. Finally, the more dementia risk factors you have, the greater your chances of having dementia.
An example of risk factors for dementia that you cannot change involves getting older (the risk of dementia tends to increase with age). Other dementia risk factors you cannot control include having:
- A family history of dementia
- Down syndrome
- Mild cognitive impairment
- History of a stroke.
Dementia risk factors that you can control include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia)
- Heavy alcohol use.
- Homocysteine levels in the blood.
There are also things that you can control that increase your risk for developing diabetes, atherosclerosis, and other conditions that may increase your risk of developing dementia. These include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Lack of physical activity
- Unhealthy diet.
On the next page, we will discuss each of these dementia risk factors in more detail.