State Politics

RISK FACTORS

The National Institutes of Health lists risk factors for developing dementia. These are factors most associated with vascular dementia.

AGE: The risk of Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and several other dementias rises significantly with age.

SMOKING AND ALCOHOL USE: Several recent studies have found that smoking significantly increases the risk.

ATHEROSCLEROSIS: Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaque -- deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol and other matter -- in the inner lining of an artery. It interferes with the delivery of blood to the brain and can lead to stroke.

CHOLESTEROL: High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), "bad" cholesterol, appear to significantly increase the risk of vascular dementia.

DIABETES: Diabetes is a risk factor for both Alzheimer's and vascular dementia. It is also a known risk factor for atherosclerosis and stroke, both of which contribute to vascular dementia.

For more information, call (800) 352-9424 or visit www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/ and click on the link for Alzheimer's disease. For local help visit www.alznc.org or call 832-3732.

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