A new study showed that reducing risk factors in young onset dementia is effective modifying the course of their disease. The study was about people with young onset dementia where several risk factors were identified. People can concentrate on modifying these risk factors, which slows down the onset of dementia.
Details of the study
More than 356, 052 participants in the UK Biobank were followed for 10 years in Wales and for 13 years in England and Scotland. A summary of the study was also published here. Here are the 15 main factors that were associated with higher risk of developing young onset dementia.
- lower formal education
- lower socioeconomic status
- carrying 2 apolipoprotein ε4 alleles (genetic risk)
- no alcohol use (a small amount of alcohol seems to be protective)
- alcohol use disorder (high amounts of alcohol behave like nerve poison)
- social isolation
- vitamin D deficiency
- high C-reactive protein levels (an indicator of inflammation)
- lower handgrip strength
- hearing impairment
- orthostatic hypotension
- heart disease
The authors suggested that patients can avoid as many factors as possible to reduce their risk of developing dementia. This is also true of older patients with dementia. Older patients with dementia are less likely to have significant genetic risks from apolipoprotein ε4 alleles. These are more important as a genetic risk in young onset dementia patients.
Other factors for developing dementia
In a detailed table 1 the authors summarized the risk factors with respect to young onset dementia. Some highlights are: deprivation is associated with a 3-fold higher risk for developing dementia. Somebody who exercises regularly has a 29% lower risk. People with depression have a 5.25-fold higher risk than those who are not depressed. A patient with rheumatoid arthritis has a risk of 2.2-fold to get young onset dementia, benzodiazepams use is associated with a risk of 4.22-fold. A patient with orthostatic hypotension has a risk of 8.76-fold, a patient with hypoglycemia a risk of 7.31-fold. The risk from diabetes is 2.27-fold to develop young onset dementia. A history of a stroke has a risk of 4.26-fold, heart disease a risk of 2.77-fold and hypertension a risk of 1.44-fold. A current smoker has a risk of 1.73-fold to develop young onset dementia.
There are many more factors listed in this research paper.
General remarks about the prevention of dementia
The authors concluded that in essence there is no difference regarding the factors that lead to dementia. The same factors that cause young onset dementia are also operative in old onset dementia. With young onset dementia the main risk is the presence of 2 apolipoprotein ε4 alleles. This gives a strong genetic risk. What lowers the risk of dementia in general is a healthy lifestyle. This means you must watch your diet, best go on a Mediterranean diet. This will prevent diabetes and hypoglycemia. Do not smoke and keep away from benzodiazepines. If you get depressed, go for cognitive counseling. Exercise regularly, which prevents cardiovascular diseases. Socialize and keep your mind busy when you are awake. Also, make sure that you settle down before bedtime and have a good night’s sleep.
A large study published on Dec. 26, 2023 in JAMA investigated the factors leading to young onset dementia. The more of those factors you have, the higher the risk of dementia. The authors found that the same factors are also causing older onset dementia, but when 2 apolipoprotein ε4 alleles are present the patient will get dementia earlier. The researchers compiled a long list of risk factors and said that people should avoid whatever factors they can for dementia prevention. The researchers suggested a Mediterranean diet, which prevents diabetes and hypoglycemia. Do not smoke and avoid benzodiazepines. Exercise regularly, which prevents cardiovascular diseases. Socialize and keep your mind busy when you are awake. Also, make sure that you settle down before bedtime and have a good night’s sleep. This recipe will prevent older onset dementia, which still is the majority of dementia patients.