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Prevention of dementia

European Collaboration on Dementia


Dementia is a complex condition. There is no single straightforward cause, and no way of definitely preventing it. No curative treatment is yet available. Thus extensive efforts for development of effective measures for prevention or risk management of this condition are needed. Identification of individuals at increased risk of dementia is a first precondition. Many factors influence an individual’s risk of developing dementia. Some of these, such as age or genetics, cannot be changed. Never the less there are several factors related to lifestyle, such as physical activity, smoking, alcohol drinking or nutrition, as well as (cardio)vascular factors, which all modify the risk of dementia. These factors can be influenced by interventions, which in turn might delay the burden of dementia in a public health perspective. The aim of this project is to develop an inventory of recommendations for a healthy lifestyle to prevent dementia. A systematic review will form the basis of a description of risk factors of dementia.

What are risk factors?

A health related risk factor is a statistical measure that decribes our chances of something negative happening to us. The presence of ‘risk factors’ is associated with an increased chance that the disease will develop at all or will develop earlier. Risk factors are characteristics of a person (e.g. blood group) or environmental conditions (e.g. sunlight) which appear to have some relationship to the development of a disease. Other examples include exposures to a substance, family background or work history. Risks are measured by analysing large numbers of people, not individuals, so what is true for a large population may not be true for an individual.

Delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by 5 years would decrease its prevalence by 50%.


We would like to thank the members of the working group on risk factors and prevention for their contribution towards the writing of this report and these recommendations:

Prof. Dr. Lutz Frölich
Carolin Knorr

Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany

Jim Jackson

Alzheimer Scotland

Prof Dr. Miia Kivipelto
Dr. Tiia Ngandu

Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Prof. Dr. Istvan Degrell

University of Debrecen, Hungary

Heike von Lützau-Hohlbein

German Alzheimer Society

Prof. Dr. Frans Verhey

University of Maastricht, Netherlands



Last Updated: Thursday 13 August 2009