High-risk factors for developing dementia

High-risk factors for developing dementia

The causes for dementia are not completely known, but there are some high-risk factors that we can prevent with preventive measures. It is known that these measures are beneficial, if they are done consistently, because they slow down the progression of dementia. They prolong person’s health and self-sufficiency and provide healthier and longer life.

Demographic factors

The person’s age is the most crucial factor. Dementia can appear before the age of 40, but the most common is between the ages of 60 and 75, where it affects 5% of entire population. After the age of 85, it increases in numbers (42-50%). Women are more prone to be affected by dementia than men. In Slovenia we have 32000 known cases of dementia, in Europe there are 10 million cases, and in the entire world, there are 49 million people suffering from dementia. The international statistics of Alzheimer’s disease shows, that the number of patients will double by the year 2050.


Lower degree of education and smaller cognitive activities represent a high-risk factor. People with higher degree of education have more cognitive reserves, which compensate neurophysiological changes in the brain. Lifelong learning decreases the risk of dementia up to by 18%.

Genetic predispositions

Family genes are a high-risk factor. If someone in the family already had dementia, then the descendants are three times likely to get dementia than other people. Researchers presume, that the genetic predisposition based dementias are the dementias, that develop in adult’s middle age.

Cardio-vascular diseases

  • Blood pressure: Alzheimer’s dementia is linked with bad blood circulation. Which means that the level of blood pressure in the brain is decreased. The main deviation in blood pressure are seen in those part of brains where we can find degenerative changes. High blood pressure increases the risk of getting Alzheimer’s dementia by 50%, low blood pressure by 40%.
  • Anemia and low levels of hemoglobin
  • High intake of saturated fats
  • High cholesterol in person’s middle age (> 6,5mmol/l)
  • Diabetes or acute deficiency of insulin in the middle age can later in years cause dementia. Treating diabetes can lower the risk of dementia for 5%. The same goes for treating high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
  • Stroke
  • Head injuries can cause the occurrences of plaques and tangles, which leads to atrophy of brain cells. The damages in early adulthood can cause Alzheimer’s dementia. The serious head injuries can correlate with the later occurrence of this dementia. Therefore, we have to take precaution measures by always wearing seat-belts, helmets, drive carefully…


  • The right diet together with physical activity decreases the risk of dementia for 10%.
  • Physical activity increases physical and mental capabilities and it is responsible for providing enough blood flow to the brain. It also decreases cholesterol and regulates blood pressure which should stop the development of AD.
  • Study done by Kungholmen has shown, that people with weak social network are more prone to develop Alzheimer’s by 60%. Social networking in the old age, different kinds of activities (intellectual and social stimulation), combined with physical and mental activities are all factors that guard from developing dementia. Everything mentioned brings happiness to the person and give the meaning to life, while keeping mental health.

Other risk factors

  • Toxicity and signs of metals.
  • The important factor for preventing dementia is to treat depression. Depression can appear as a side symptom of AD and other dementias. If it appears before dementia (at least 10 years before) and we don’t treat it, it can become its own risk factor for developing dementia.