These risks were identified by a recent major review of the latest evidence by leading dementia experts from around the globe, including the UK.
1 Keep blood pressure low
Hypertension affects memory, and having it in midlife can raise your dementia risk in later life. ‘Researchers believe an increase in blood pressure hastens the hardening of arteries, which reduces blood to the brain,’ explains Dr Sarah Brewer, author of Overcoming High Blood Pressure. Hypertension is usually symptomless, so get yours checked at least once a year. ‘If the reading is 140/90 mmHg or higher, ask your doctor for advice on managing it,’ advises Dr Brewer.
2 Don’t drink too much
Alcohol causes chemical changes in your brain, and too much increases your risk of developing dementia and alcohol-related brain damage, as well as high blood pressure and depression – both of which are known to raise your risk of dementia. Don’t drink more than 14 units a week and have at least three alcohol-free days. For help cutting back, visit drinkaware.co.uk
3 Don’t smoke
Smoking increases the amount of hazardous particles in the air – a known dementia risk. It also speeds up the ageing of your brain and harms blood vessels. Don’t be put off quitting if you’ve smoked for years. ‘It’s never too early and it’s never too late to think about reducing your [dementia] risk,’ says psychiatrist Professor David Ames from the University of Melbourne, one of the review’s authors.
4 Get moving
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