Almost half of us do not know a single risk factor for dementia, according to new research.
Experts believe that factors under individual control, such as leading a healthy lifestyle, play a part in a third of all cases.
But only one in three adults in the UK believes it is possible to reduce their risk of getting the disease, according to a survey for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Medical risks include genetics, depression, diabetes and high blood pressure – and other factors include smoking and heavy drinking. Exercise is known to protect against the disease.
More than two in five people told the survey that dementia was the health condition they feared the most, while 85% said they would be willing to take a test to see whether they were in the early stages of it.
Dementia is an umbrella term for symptoms including memory loss, a lack of mental sharpness, and changes in mood and personality. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for about two-thirds of cases.
Currently, there are more than 850,000 people in the UK living with it. That number is expected to rise to more than a million by 2025.
In the survey, 49% of people said they did not know dementia was a cause of death, while more than a fifth incorrectly said it was simply part of getting older.
Hilary Evans, the chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer but only half of people recognise it even causes death.
“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.”
Care minister Caroline Dinenage said: “Prevention is becoming an increasingly vital tool in tackling dementia.
“By spreading the word on prevention, we can help fulfil the government’s ambition to make England the world leader in dementia care, research and awareness.”
Almost half of us do not know a single risk factor for dementia, according to new research. Experts believe that factors under individual control, such as leading a healthy lifestyle, play a part in a third of all cases.