Brain Health and Dementia Prevention

There are many risk factors for dementia. Some are not in our control, like age and genetics.

However, we do have some control over many other risk factors. In 2020 The Lancet Commission published a list of 12 modifiable risk factors that could account for 40% of dementias worldwide. This estimate was supported in a 2022 study that focused on just the US population. These modifiable risk factors include:

In early life (<45 years old)

  • Educational achievement

In midlife (45-65 years old)

  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Hearing loss
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Excessive alcohol use

In later life (>65 years old)

  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Social isolation
  • Air pollution

It is important to work with your doctors to evaluate for these and other conditions that can increase your risk for dementia, and to treat whatever is treatable. A comprehensive evaluation can also clarify if any cognitive symptoms are related to the normal aging process or an early stage of dementia.

Watch these videos of Dr. Deutsch’s presentations on risk factors for dementia and things we can do now to promote brain health and help prevent dementia.

References and Resources

  1. Livingston G, Huntley J, Sommerlad A, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. Lancet 2020;396:413-446. Available at
  2. Lee ME, Whitsel C, Avery TM, et al.  Variation in Population Attributable Fraction of Dementia Associated With Potentially Modifiable Risk Factors by Race and Ethnicity in the US. JAMA Netw Open 2022;5: e2219672. Available at 

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