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Most unaware of dementia lifestyle link

AAP logoAAP 25/10/2016 Georgina Stubbs

Most people are unaware of all the lifestyle factors which can increase the risk of dementia, a survey has found.

With no known cure, there is increasing evidence that steps can be taken to try to reduce a person's risk of a dementia as experts warn it is "not an inevitable part of ageing".

Findings from a survey commissioned by Public Health England reveal just 2 per cent of those surveyed are able to correctly identify all the potentially changeable factors which can increase the risk of dementia.

These factors include and relate to alcohol consumption, smoking, high blood pressure, depression, diabetes and low exercise levels.

The figures, part of the 2015 British Social Attitudes survey, found "the lowest levels of knowledge exist in relation to high blood pressure and diabetes" - with just 15 per cent realising high blood pressure increases the chance of getting dementia.

Meanwhile, just 14 per cent of people know that those with diabetes are more likely to get dementia.

While 27 per cent of the 2,176 survey respondents incorrectly believed there is nothing anyone can do to reduce their risks of getting the condition, a further 28 per cent were also unable to correctly identify any potentially modifiable risk factors.

With growing evidence that as many as a third of dementia cases could be a result of controllable factors, Dr Charles Alessi, senior dementia advisor at PHE, said: "Dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing.

"What's good for the heart is good for the brain and simple steps like giving up smoking, reducing alcohol intake, losing weight and taking regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing dementia in the future.

"In the absence of a cure for dementia, prevention is the best means we have to reduce its impact on the public."

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