The Growing Influence of Cardiovascular Health on Dementia Risk

Study finds risk factors for dementia related to heart healthA new study by researchers from University College London (UCL) has discovered that risk factors for dementia related to heart health have increased over time, while other factors like smoking and lower levels of education have decreased in importance. The study, which was published in The Lancet Public Health, looked at how these risk factors for dementia have changed and what this might mean for future dementia rates.

Currently, around 944,000 people in the UK have dementia, and about 52% of the population, or 34.5 million people, know someone with the disease. Dementia is one of the leading causes of death in the country, and it has been the primary cause of death for women in the UK since 2011.


There is growing interest in risk factors for dementia that can be changed, as removing these risks could prevent about 40% of dementia cases. The new study reviewed 27 papers from different countries, including data from 1947 to 2015, with the latest paper published in 2020. Researchers looked at the data to see how much each risk factor contributed to dementia over time.

Dementia often develops due to a mix of genetic and environmental factors, such as high blood pressure (hypertension), obesity, diabetes, lack of education, and smoking.

The researchers found that over time, smoking and having less education had become less common, which was linked to lower rates of dementia. On the other hand, obesity and diabetes rates have gone up, and these factors have become more important in contributing to dementia.

The biggest risk factor for dementia in most of the studies was high blood pressure. However, it’s important to note that more people have been managing their blood pressure better over time.

Dr. Naaheed Mukadam from UCL Psychiatry, who led the study, pointed out that heart health risk factors might be playing a bigger role in dementia risk over time. Because of this, she suggested that more effort should be put into targeting these factors to prevent dementia in the future.


Dr. Mukadam also mentioned that higher education levels have increased in many wealthier countries, making it a less significant risk factor for dementia. She added that smoking has also decreased in Europe and the USA because it has become less socially acceptable and more expensive. These trends indicate that changes at the population level, such as policies to improve education and reduce smoking, could have a big impact on the factors that lead to dementia. She suggested that governments should think about adopting such measures globally.

The study was supported by the Three Schools’ Dementia Research Programme at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

The study also noted some limitations. While cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure have increased over time, more people have been managing these conditions better, so their impact on dementia risk may be less than it seems. Additionally, the studies reviewed only included data up to 2015, so they might not reflect more recent trends in dementia risk factors.

Author Bio

Devon Andre has been involved in the health and dietary supplement industry for a number of years. Devon has written extensively for Bel Marra Health. He has a Bachelor of Forensic Science from the University of Windsor, and went on to complete a Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh. Devon is keenly aware of trends and new developments in the area of health and wellness. He embraces an active lifestyle combining diet, exercise and healthy choices. By working to inform readers of the options available to them, he hopes to improve their health and quality of life.