What causes Dementia

There is not always an explanation as to what causes dementia but we know that damage to or loss of nerve cells and their connections in the brain ultimately lead to dementia.  There are certain factors which can make it more likely. Some are avoidable, with certain lifestyle changes which can make a difference.   Some of the known risk factors include your age and having certain other underlying health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. 

The risk factors vary for different types of dementia and some of them you cannot change, such as your age or ethnic background and whether you are male or female.  But there are others that you can and by making certain healthy lifestyle changes you may help reduce your risk of dementia.


Lifestyle


There are several lifestyle risk factors linked to increased risk of dementia or mental decline (cognitive impairment). These don’t increase the risk of all types of dementia, but they are linked to the two most common types:

Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. People with Alzheimer’s disease often have some vascular dementia as well.


It may help to reduce your risk of developing dementia if you:

  • eat a healthy diet

  • keep physically active

  • keep a healthy body weight and avoid becoming overweight

  • stop smoking

Age


Unfortunately, Dementia is more common in people over the age of 65, but it can also affect younger people.  Early onset of the disease can begin when people are in their 30’s and upwards, however with early intervention and diagnosis you can slow the progression of the disease and maintain mental function.


Gender


Overall, there are more women with dementia than men. This is mainly because women tend to live longer than men, so there are more women living at older ages, when dementia is more likely.

However Vascular Dementia is a type of dementia that is more common in men than women. 


Ethnic background


Some types of dementia are more common in people of particular ethnic backgrounds. Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are more common in black populations than white. Vascular dementia is also more common in Asian people than white people.


Other health conditions

There are some other diseases and health conditions that are linked to dementia. These include:

  • high blood pressure

  • heart disease

  • stroke

  • diabetes 

  • Parkinson’s Disease

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Down’s syndrome​

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