Who's most at risk?
Things that can increase your chances of getting vascular dementia in later life include:
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- an unhealthy diet
- high blood cholesterol
- lack of exercise
- being overweight or obese
- excessive alcohol consumption
- atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heartbeat) and other types of heart disease
These problems increase the risk of damage to the blood vessels in and around the brain, or cause blood clots to develop inside them.
Can I reduce my risk?
This may also help slow down or stop the progression of vascular dementia if you're diagnosed in the early stages. See treating vascular dementia for more information.
But there are some things you can't change that can increase your risk of vascular dementia, such as:
- your age – the risk of vascular dementia increases as you get older, with people over 65 most at risk
- your family history – your risk of problems such as strokes is higher if a close family member has had them
- your ethnicity – if you have a south Asian, African or Caribbean background, your risk of vascular dementia is higher, as related problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure are more common in these groups
In rare cases, unavoidable genetic conditions can also increase your risk of vascular dementia.