Half of adults across the UK are unable to identify key risk factors which can lead to dementia, according to a new study.
Only 1% of an Alzheimer’s Research UK survey of 2,361 people were able to identify the six known risk factors for dementia: diabetes, heavy drinking, genetics, smoking, high blood pressure and depression.
According to the organisation, a third of dementia cases are thought to be influenced by these key risk factors.
Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, but getting regular exercise, keeping blood glucose levels under control and eating a healthy diet can reduce this risk.
While a third of dementia cases are believed to be influenced by factors within our control, only 34% of those surveyed believed it was possible to reduce dementia risk. In comparison, 77% believed this was possible for heart disease, and 81% for diabetes.
Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “It is a sad truth that more people are affected by dementia than ever before and half of us now know someone with the condition. Yet despite growing dementia awareness, we must work harder to improve understanding of the diseases that cause it.
“Making breakthroughs in public understanding has the potential to empower more people to take steps to maintain their own brain health, to seek a diagnosis and to support research that has the power to transform lives.”
In April last year, Australian researchers identified a specific part of the brain, involved in learning and memory, tended to be smaller among those in people with type 2 diabetes. They emphasised the importance of good blood glucose control to improve brain health.