An urgent warning has been issued over three common lifestyle habits that can significantly increase the risk of getting dementia.
Age is known to be the biggest risk factor for dementia and there is no cure, but discovering it early can ensure patients receive the correct treatment that helps them cope with the struggles it brings.
Nottinghamshire Live report that there are also some simple life changes people can make that decrease their chance of developing the condition.
A study conducted in the Netherlands found that people who smoked, had high blood pressure and a poor diet may also have lower scores on thinking skills tests, greater changes on brain scans and a higher risk of cognitive impairment.
It was also discovered that in men, the test scores were associated with poor memory function and markers of brain shrinkage.
The study involved 4,164 people with an average age of 59 who took a test called the “Lifestyle for Brain Health” (LIBRA).
The total score reflects a person’s potential for developing dementia taking into account 11 out of 12 lifestyle factors on the test, including high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, diet and physical activity.
Participants in the study took tests of memory and other thinking skills, such as information processing speed, executive function and attention.
Researchers also looked at brain scans for signs of cerebral small vessel disease, which are signs of vascular brain damage that are often seen in patients who have dementia.
They found that people who were in the high-risk group on the LIBRA test, indicating a less brain-healthy lifestyle, had three main lifestyle habits which increased their risk and lowered their test scores.
High blood pressure, particularly in middle age, significantly increases the risk of dementia, according to research.
Studies show that sufferers in a critical period between the ages of 30-50 are two thirds more likely to develop the incurable brain condition.
Smokers have a 45 per cent higher risk of getting dementia than non-smokers, warns the World Health Organization.
It is estimated that 14 per cent of all Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide are potentially attributable to smoking.
Diets high in saturated and trans fats have been shown to increase cognitive decline and the risk of developing dementia.
Researchers found that both nutrition and exercise can potentially influence hippocampal neurogenesis – the process by which the brain produces new brain cells.
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