Are You At Risk Of Dementia?


Dementia is a progressive and long-term neurodegenerative syndrome in which there is memory loss as well as impaired cognitive skills and judgement, reduced learning capacity, extreme difficulty accessing memories, mood swings, problems performing day-to-day tasks and activities, and linguistic problems. One of the most common causes of dementia is Alzheimer's diseas,: a brain disorder that gradually impacts memory and thinking skills to the extent that daily activities become impossible. 1 Some of the main risk factors are listed below. A quick read can help you understand all you need to do to reduce your risk of developing dementia.


The Alzheimer's Society states that dementia is not a 'normal' part of ageing; however, age is the biggest risk factor for developing dementia.2,3 This is because the majority of individuals with dementia are over the age of 65, and the chances of developing dementia increase as people age.3 The Alzheimer's Society has a comprehensive template that shows the difference between signs of normal ageing and dementia. This can help you evaluate your situation and beware of any concerning signs. 


Risk of developing dementia can be determined by genetics. Dementia has a multifactorial pathogenesis i.e., it can occur on account of various factors in addition to having the genes that increase the risk of having it. 50% of people with Down Syndrome go on to develop dementia and then AD, so DS is a strong genetic predictor of a higher risk of dementia and AD. Thus, having the gene will just increase your chances of developing dementia, if other pre-existing, complex diseases have been diagnosed, which increases susceptibility. Those with the gene for dementia may have different expression profiles than those who do go on to develop it, and thereby not develop the disease. 

These different representations are referred to as risk variants when their presence can increase your chance of developing the disease. If there is a family history of dementia, it is vital to take steps to protect your health and use early prevention as the primary treatment. These steps are briefly discussed below. 

To find out more about genetic testing for dementia, click here.


Stroke or multiple mini-strokes can lead to a greater risk of developing dementia. Stroke is categorised as a medical condition where the blood supply to the brain has been cut off. This can be due to a number of conditions and accidents that result in the brain not receiving the necessary amount of blood (ischemia) causing tissue death (infarction). It can also occur on account of blood vessels breaking or rupturing (hemorrhagic stroke). This can also be caused due to build-up of fat in blood vessels, leading to the formation of blood clots arising in the heart (thrombus), which can travel through the body and up to the brain (embolus).  

Research shows the molecular links between the incidence of stroke and subsequent vascular dementia.11 Vascular dementia is a type of dementia that occurs on account of reduced blood supply to the brain. Areas in the brain that are affected experience a loss of function in their neurons or brain cells, thus showing symptoms of dementia. 

Heart Disease 

Heart diseases are a part of cardiovascular diseases that can raise your chances of developing dementia. Heart disease is caused due to buildup of fat in the form of plaque, along your blood vessels. This can happen due to smoking, long-term alcohol consumption and binge drinking sessions. It is useful to keep track of your alcohol intake to reduce the risk of heart disease. The same applies to diet and lifestyle. A healthy balanced diet, with little or no high calorie, ‘junk’ foods and red meat, is beneficial. A sedentary, inactive lifestyle with little or no exercise, too, is a high-risk factor for developing heart disease. Coming to the main link, heart disease and dementia.6 Research is evidence that heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, all add to the risk of developing strokes and dementia. Fat build-ups, a classic feature of heart disease, cause blockages that reduce the amount of blood reaching the brain. This also reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the brain. Cells need oxygen to function and a lack of oxygen reduces the function of the cells and can even cause cell death. 


Research shows the link between type 2 diabetes and dementia. Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of developing dementia at some stage. Diabetes can increase the risk of diseases associated with the cerebrovascular system (brain, heart, blood vessels, nerves), by injuring these areas. Research shows that individuals with diabetes have a 70% chance of developing dementia. It is therefore extremely useful to be aware of the signs of dementia, especially if you are diabetic.10 


Obesity can increase your likelihood of getting diabetes and other heart diseases. These diseases contribute to dementia. Therefore obesity or being unhealthily overweight can indirectly increase the risk of dementia. It is useful to carefully review your dietary habits and check your BMI (Body Mass Index), to get a comprehensive understanding of your physical status. You can also consult your medical practitioner about developing weight loss goals and plans if you are overweight. Click here to check your BMI today. 


Suffering from depression at any point in life can increase the risk of developing dementia at a later stage7. The relationship between depression and dementia is complex. However, research proposes that depression can lead to changes in areas of the brain. These diseased areas act as risk factors for dementia.8 If you express any of the symptoms of depression, for two weeks or longer, it is important to consult a mental health practitioner or your local healthcare provider, in order to determine a treatment plan and reduce the risk of dementia.9 


Injuries to the brain can increase the risk of developing dementia. A mild or moderate, single occurrence of a brain injury is not a cause of concern. Repeated brain injury, from hits, blows, falls or accidents can highly increase the chances of developing dementia. This leads to the loss of cells due to injury in those brain areas. This can eventually lead to dementia symptoms. 

What you can do today 

Even if you have no control over certain factors, the risk of dementia can be significantly reduced by eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly. Of course, this does not mean hours of training in the gym and unsavoury diets. Switching to healthy oils, and plant alternatives, introducing fresh foods and reducing processed food intake is extremely useful. Additionally, exercising for just 30 minutes a day has been shown to help cardiovascular health, thereby assisting in the prevention of dementia. Yoga, horse riding, tai chi and other sports and activities are also useful alternatives. Additionally, smoking and drinking can significantly increase the risk of heart disease, vascular disease and other complex diseases that further increase the risk of dementia. 


In summary, in addition to maintaining overall mental well-being, a generally balanced lifestyle can help you not only reduce the likelihood of developing dementia but also help you live a fuller, more expressive life.


  1. What is dementia? Symptoms, types, and diagnosis [Internet]. National Institute on Aging. [cited 2022 Jun 9]. Available from:
  2. Is it getting older, or dementia? | Alzheimer’s Society [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jun 9]. Available from:
  3. Who gets dementia? - Written for teenagers [Internet]. Alzheimer’s Research UK. [cited 2022 Jun 9]. Available from:
  4. Bennett, S., & Thomas, A. J. (2014). Depression and dementia: cause, consequence or coincidence?. Maturitas, 79(2), 184–190.
  5. NHS.UK. 2018. BMI calculator | Check your BMI. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 January 2022].
  6. Doehner W. (2019). Dementia and the heart failure patient. European heart journal supplements : journal of the European Society of Cardiology, 21(Suppl L), L28–L31.
  7. NHS.UK. 2019. Symptoms - Clinical depression. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 January 2022].
  8. Bennett S, Thomas AJ. Depression and dementia: Cause, consequence or coincidence? Maturitas [Internet]. 2014 Oct 1 [cited 2022 Jun 9];79(2):184–90. Available from:
  9. Symptoms - Clinical depression [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 Jun 9]. Available from:
  10. Sharma, B., & Abdelhafiz, A.H. (2014). Diabetes and Dementia. Geriatic Medicine Journal, 44(9).
  11. Vijayan, M., & Reddy, P. H. (2016). Stroke, Vascular Dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease: Molecular Links. Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD, 54(2), 427–443.

Ishana Gole

Master of Science - MS, Bioscience Entrepreneurship, UCL (University College London)
Ishana is a Biomedical Science student with a keen interest in neuroscience and past experience in online consulting, marketing and advertising. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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