New study reveals 11 key factors that could increase dementia risk

The number of people suffering from dementia is expected to triple in the next three decades (Pixabay, Pexels)
The number of people suffering from dementia is expected to triple in the next three decades (Pixabay, Pexels)

The current estimations expect the number of people living with dementia across the globe to triple to 153 million by 2050. With it, the pressure on health and social care systems is set to grow significantly.

A new research study led by the University of Oxford has determined several risk factors that could significantly decrease the risk of suffering from dementia, which would, in turn, reduce the future threat to the likes of the NHS and care homes.

The scientists examined the data collected from over 220,000 people aged between 50 and 73 and compiled a risk of 28 known dementia risk factors to work out the strongest predictors.

The results showed that there were 11 factors. These were:

  • Age

  • Education

  • A history of diabetes

  • A history of depression

  • A history of stroke

  • Parental history of dementia

  • Levels of deprivation

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Living alone

  • Being male

The academics had already known that up to 40 per cent of dementia cases can be prevented through modifying certain lifestyle factors, like losing weight, reducing alcohol intake, and stopping smoking, from previous studies.

Now, with the help of this new study, they have been able to produce a new tool, named the UK Biobank Dementia Risk Score (UKBDRS) tool.

When combined with the tool that examines the dementia-causing APOE gene, the UKBDRS-APOE tool was found to produce the highest predictive score, meaning it can be used to identify those at risk as well as highlight preventative measures that people can take beforehand.

Talking about it, the lead author of the study Dr, Raihaan Patel, said: “The UKBDRS may best be used as an initial screening tool to stratify people into risk groups, and those identified as high risk could then benefit from the more time-intensive follow-up assessments described above for more detailed characterisation.”

Associate professor Sana Suri from the University of Oxford, a co-lead author, added: “It’s important to remember that this risk score only tells us about our chances of developing dementia; it doesn’t represent a definitive outcome.

“The importance of each risk factor varies and given that some of the factors included in the score can be modified or treated, there are things we can all do to help reduce our risk of dementia.

“While older age (60 and above) and APOE confer the greatest risk, modifiable factors, such as diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure also have a key role. For example, the estimated risk for a person with all of these will be approximately three times higher than that of a person of the same age who doesn’t have any.”