Dementia Causes

Research into dementia causes by Oxford University shows that the earlier in life people suffer from obesity, the more likely they are to develop dementia later.

Magdalen College Oxford

The study looked at hospital records of 450,000 people admitted for obesity and found that those aged between 30 and 70 were more likely to go on to develop some form of dementia. 

Although researchers admitted the survey was limited in that patients were only followed up for 12 years.

Those who were admitted in their 30's were 3 times more likely to develop dementia, those in their 40's were 70% more likely and those in their 50's were 50% more likely. However those in their 70's showed no increased risk.

Dr Erik Karran, director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, suggested that the findings could be due to the increased incidence of hypertension and diabetes in the obese.

A further study reveals that women are hit hardest by the rising incidence of dementia in the U.K. It is the leading cause of death among women in Britain and they also often shoulder the burden of caring for family members who suffer from the disease.

Other Dementia Causes

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia and results in brain cell death, ultimately impairing cognitive function. This so called 'atrophy' of the brain primarily affects the cerebral cortex which is concerned with thought processes, memory, language, organising and planning. 

Vascular dementia is caused by a restriction of blood flow to the brain. This results in the death of brain cells (which require a constant source of blood) and damage to the brain.

The problem arises when blood cells in the brain narrow and harden due to the build up of fatty deposits. This is termed atherosclerosis and is most common in those who smoke, have high blood pressure or suffer from type 1 diabetes.

A stroke can also kill brain cells but will not necessarily lead to dementia.

Lewy Bodies are clumps of protein which form in brain cells and interfere with the action of neurotransmitters; the chemicals which facilitate the movement of information around the brain.

This is closely related to Parkinson's disease, a degenerative condition which leads to increasing frailty and limb tremor, muscle stiffness and slow movement.

Frontotemporal dementia results from the shrinkage of the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain. This is more common in younger people and has been linked to genetic traits handed down from previous generations.

Less Common Causes

A diet lacking in vitamin B

Infections including encephalitis and HIV 

Alcohol and drug misuse

Depression

Head injury

A lack of thyroid hormone

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