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Depression Causes Dementia? 9 Key Risk Factors For Cognitive Impairment Identified

by John Raphael / Jul 24, 2017 02:38 PM EDT
The late Robin Williams is one of the celebrities who had dementia.

An international team of experts has identified nine key risk factors for cognitive impairment. In a study, the experts noted that simple lifestyle changes to prevent these risk factors could greatly decrease the likelihood of developing dementia.

Up to 35 percent of dementia cases were preventable while the remaining 65 percent were considered to be non-modifiable, the experts found out. Their findings were published in the journal The Lancet.

"Although dementia is diagnosed in later life, the brain changes usually begin to develop years before," BBC quoted lead author Prof. Gill Livingston from University College London as saying. "Acting now will vastly improve life for people with dementia and their families and, in doing so, will transform the future of society."

Among the risk factors, mid-life hearing loss, failure to complete secondary education and smoking took the top three spots with 9 percent, 8 percent and 5 percent of the risk, respectively. Failure to receive early treatment for depression was linked to about 4 percent of the risk while physical inactivity contributes about 3 percent to the risk of dementia. Both social isolation and high blood pressure were linked to 2 percent of the risk, while both obesity and type 2 diabetes were associated to 1 percent risk.

The researchers noted that modifying all nine key risk factors could reduce the risk of dementia by 35 percent. While the preventable risk factors of dementia only accounts for more than a third of dementia cases, the researchers believe that an early intervention tackling the risk factors could delay the onset or progression of dementia. If the intervention is successful and all nine risk factors were addressed properly, the researchers estimate that the number of people living with dementia in the world could decrease by nine million in 2050.

Dementia is considered to be one of the major causes of disability and dependency among the older adults worldwide. About 47 million people in the world are reported to be living with dementia and there are about 9.9 million new cases every year.

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