As we age, it’s common to worry about the possibility of developing dementia. While aging is the greatest risk factor for dementia, it’s much more complicated than that—there are many causes of dementia and many risk factors associated with its development.
Around the globe, researchers have banded together to identify risk factors and explore methods to prevent dementia. While there is currently no definitive way to prevent dementia, there is strong evidence to suggest several aspects of healthy living may reduce your risk of developing dementia.
According to the 2020 Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care, three new potentially modifiable risk factors have been identified: excessive alcohol consumption, air pollution, and traumatic brain injury. With this, there are now 12 potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia. Their life-course model of dementia prevention includes one early life risk factor, five midlife risk factors, and six later life risk factors. Together, these risk factors are believed to account for approximately 40% of worldwide dementia cases. In other words, modifying these 12 risk factors may prevent or delay up to 40% of dementia cases.
Early life risk factors are believed to impact cognitive reserve, the brain’s ability to make thicker connections between brain areas and cope with, or moderate, the clinical consequences of a disease. Midlife and later life risk factors are believed to play a role in age-related cognitive decline and may trigger neuropathological changes in the brain.
Taking steps throughout all stages of life to modify risk factors and protect brain health may help prevent dementia.
During early life (younger than 45 years), education is the primary factor that is believed to contribute to dementia risk. You can think about education as the foundation for cognitive reserve to be built upon. Higher educational attainment may increase cognitive reserve while lower educational attainment may decrease cognitive reserve. Accordingly, higher educational attainment is associated with a lower risk of dementia while lower educational attainment is associated with a higher risk of dementia.
Modifying this risk factor by increasing educational attainment at a global scale could prevent or delay 7% of dementia cases.
During midlife (45-65 years), there are five potentially modifiable risk factors associated with dementia development: hearing loss, traumatic brain injury (TBI), hypertension, excessive alcohol consumption, and obesity.
TBI is most commonly caused by falls, motor vehicle crashes, and recreational sports. Taking appropriate safety precautions, such as wearing seatbelts and appropriate headgear, can reduce the risk of TBI.
During later life (older than 65 years), there are six potentially modifiable factors that have been linked to dementia: smoking, depression, physical inactivity, air pollution, and diabetes.
While these risk factors provide compelling evidence that there may be ways to prevent dementia or at least delay its onset, there is a second part of this equation that should be addressed.
Routine testing of cognitive function for all adults—especially those at higher risk of developing dementia—is essential for the early detection of Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia. This is particularly true as we see promising new treatments and therapies emerge in the drug development pipeline.
At Altoida, we believe that understanding your brain health should be simple and accessible. We are building the world’s-first Precision Neurology platform and app-based medical device—backed by 11 years of clinical validation—to accelerate and improve drug development, neurological disease research, and patient care.
By completing a 10-minute series of augmented reality and motor activities designed to simulate complex Activities of Daily Living on a smartphone or tablet, Altoida’s device extracts and provides robust measurements of neurocognitive function across 13 neurocognitive domains. Our device measures and analyzes nearly 800 multimodal cognitive and functional digital biomarkers. Through the collection of highly granular data from integrated smartphone or tablet sensors, Altoida’s device produces comprehensive neurocognitive domain scores.
This method, along with our innovative artificial intelligence, will pioneer fully digital predictive neurological disease diagnosis. In 2021, our device received the Breakthrough Device designation by the FDA. Altoida's platform has demonstrated the ability to predict conversion from Mild Cognitive Impairment to Alzheimer's disease with a high degree of accuracy.
To learn more about potential ways to prevent dementia, or about using Altoida’s Precision Neurology platform, contact us today.