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Dementia: ‘Biggest lifestyle risk’ that increases the risk of dementia by a whopping 50%

Dementia: Dr Sara on benefits of being in nature

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Public Health England (PHE) warned that dementia, directly or indirectly, will “soon affect every one of us” – are you protecting yourself as much as possible? One of the “biggest lifestyle risks” for developing the condition is smoking. In fact, “smoking doubles the risk of dementia” in a number of ways.

Firstly, smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.

These conditions harm blood vessels, including the ones that supply brain tissue with vital nutrients and oxygen.

Secondly, smoking narrows the blood vessels in the heart and brain.

As such, the supply of oxygen is restricted, which can cause severe consequences.

And thirdly, smoking causes oxidative stress that directly damages the brain.

Evidently, smoking is seriously harmful and can raise the risk of dementia by 50 percent.

This may be compounded by other aggravating factors, such as:

  • A lack of regular physical exercise
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • A poor diet high in saturated fat, sugar, and salt
  • Obesity.

Pre-existing conditions can also increase a person’s risk of dementia. Examples include:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure.

To help delay or prevent the onset of dementia, disability, and frailty in later life, steps need to be taken from mid life onwards.

One of the best things a person can do for their overall health, as well as to reduce their dementia risk, is to be a non-smoker.

Moreover, incorporating physical activity into your everyday routine can help to minimise your risk of brain decline.

People are advised to “reduce their alcohol consumption” and to “have a healthier diet”.

The 2017 Lancet Commission on dementia prevention identified further risk factors for dementia, such as infrequent social contact.

It is for this reason that people should try to strengthen their social bonds and get involved in community activities.

Hearing impairment is another risk factor for dementia that may lead someone to become more antisocial.

Hearing tests are often free, especially in large pharmacies and opticians.

If a hearing aid is needed, however, it will usually come at a cost.

Prior head injuries have also been linked to the development of dementia.

While non-modifiable risk factors, such as older age, will be a risk factor you simply cannot avoid, there are plenty of ways to minimise your risk of brain disease.

If you suspect you have any symptoms of dementia, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

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