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Dementia Causes, Risk Factors, and Preventions

April 27, 2021
By Ehsan Y. Moghadam

Decline of cognitive in dementia Credit:


There is a looming fear for many elderly people; they lose their memories and be cared for constantly by being diagnosed with dementia. It is painful for them when they do not recognize their loved ones and survive with anxiety and depression.

Recently, dementia has received increasing global attention similar to other public health priorities, such as HIV. In 2019, more than 50 million people were diagnosed with dementia across the globe. Due to growing population aging, this rate is expected to increase to 150 million by 2050. It leads to a substantial economic burden for their relatives and the governments (Currently, around $1 trillion per year).

About dementia

Dementia is not a single disease; it is a group of diseases that causes the decline of cognitive abilities such as thinking, reasoning, remembering, and behavioral abilities. Dementia disrupts our personalities, language skills, problem-solving, focus, emotion, and pay attention. Dementia diseases include Alzheimer's disease, Frontotemporal disorders, Lewy body dementia, Vascular dementia, and mixed dementia (a combination of two and three types of dementia). The most comment dementia is Alzheimer's disease which constitutes 60-80% of cases.


Dementia is often seen in the aging process. In dementia, the neuron cells are damaged and cannot communicate with each other and then die. In the brain, there are different regions, each of which is responsible for some functions such as learning, movement, speaking, and memory. For example, in Alzheimer’s, the earliest symptom is loss of memory. Because the accumulations of proteins, β-amyloid plaque or tau protein, disrupt the transfer the information from one neuron cell to another in brain’s hippocampus region, where is for functions of learning and memory.

Brain in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease as a comment type of dementia diseases, Verkhratsky et al., Neuroglia in Neurodegenerative Diseases, 2019 Brain in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease as a comment type of dementia diseases, Verkhratsky et al., Neuroglia in Neurodegenerative Diseases, 2019

Risk factors

Some risk factors are not changeable in our life. Rhese factors are introduced below:

  1. Age: By increasing the age, especially after 65, the risk of dementia rises.
  2. Genetic and hereditary: Research shows that those who have a family history of dementia are more likely to develop dementia.
  3. Down syndrome: More than 75% of individuals with Down syndrome are living with Alzheimer’s. It shows Down syndrome increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. 

Dementia treatment and preventative strategies

Although many researches have been carried out on dementia so far, there is no effective treatment. Drugs used for treatment improve symptoms temporarily.

A healthy lifestyle can help us to prevent not only dementia but also many diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. In the following, some strategies are introduced to reduce the risk of dementia;

  1. Enough sleep: During sleep, the brain clears up the toxic proteins which play an essential role in progressing dementia.
  2. Feeding the brain: We have to provide enough nutrients for the brain to protect itself. Eating high amounts sugar causes inflammation in the brain, increasing the risk for dementia, while a plant-based diet is highly recommended.
  3. Waking: It is still unclear if exercising reduces the dementia risk. However, research on dementia showed fit women are less at risk of dementia.
  4. Avoid smoking: By smoking causes the brain to swell, which is linked to dementia.
  5. Improve heart health: 80% of people suffering from dementia have heart disease. Also, evidence shows there is a strong connection between the brain and heart.
  6. Improve hearing ability: There is a 24% increase in dementia for those with hearing loss. Hearing loss makes more stress and isolated people in relationships which harm the brain.
  7. Maintenance of strong relationships: Socializing and spending time with people we love improve our brain health and reduce 26% of dementia risk.
  8. Brain safety: All forms of brain injury increase dementia risk. For example, our brain can be protected from injuries in sports such as biking and hiking by using helmets.


There are many unknowns about dementia, but by specifying policy and personal changes, we can delay dementia and support people with dementia and their families to improve their quality of life. Also, by increasing funding in research and clinical studies of dementia, we can expect to hear good news discover effective drugs for dementia treatment in the near future.

About the author

Ehsan Y. Moghadam is a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering. Ehsan received his MSc degree in Aerospace Engineering from Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran; his research was focused on numerical analysis of heat transfer and fluid flow in microfluidics. He is currently developing micro-devices to recreate the microenvironment of neurodegenerative disease conditions. These micro-devices are utilized as alternative platforms to study the cells’ activities in a more precise, controllable, and inexpensive method. His interest is microfluidics, Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), fluid mechanics, and heat transfer.

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