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Risk Factors for developing dementia

Risk factors for developing dementia

Studies have shown that dementia has overtaken cancer as our most feared disease. This is mainly because of the improvement in the outlook for people diagnosed with cancer due to the improvement in diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment for dementia can currently only slow the progress of the disease and alleviate some of the symptoms. Scientists are hopeful that new treatment will be developed in the next few years that may halt or even reverse dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and it affects more than 520,000 people in the UK. It is thought to result in a loss of connections between cells in the brain due to the build up of abnormal proteins. The second most common cause is vascular dementia. This is caused by death of brain cells due to an interruption in their blood supply caused by either a stoke or diseased blood vessels in the brain.

Symptoms of dementia

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Problems with abstract thinking
  • Personality change
  • Mood changes
  • Disorientation with familiar things and places
  • Poor judgement which can place them in danger
  • Misplacing things
  • Loss of motivation and initiative
  • Lack of personal hygiene and care
  • Problems communicating

Risk factors

Research has uncovered some important factors that can affect our risk of developing dementia. The risk of us developing the disease depends on a combination of these. Some such as age and genes cannot be controlled but others can.

  • Genetics and family history - If there is a family history of Alzheimer’s then you are more at risk. Some studies suggest that if you have a parent or a sibling with the disease your overall risk is increased five or six fold.
  • Age – Dementia usually starts after the age of 65 and the risk increases with age. One in six 80 year olds are affected. As we age the brain becomes less agile and connections become weaker.
  • Obesity – One theory is that fat releases harmful hormones that damage brain cells. The other risks associated with being overweight such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and the furring up of arteries increase the risk of vascular dementia.
  • Diabetes – Type 2 diabetes raises the risk of dementia. This is because a raised blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the brain which increases the risk of stroke and vascular dementia. It also causes inflammation which may increase the abnormal proteins in the brain.
  • Smoking – Smoking may increase your chances of getting dementia and other vascular diseases.
  • Blood pressure – High blood pressure can cause stroke or cause inflammation which leads to a build up of abnormal proteins.
  • Stress – Chronic stress raises the levels of the hormone cortisol. There are cortisol receptors in the part of the brain which is important for learning and memory. If cortisol levels remain high these receptors become saturated which damages brain cells.
  • Depression – Late-life depression especially in men may be a risk factor or an indication of the onset of dementia.
  • High oestrogen levels – Women taking oestrogen and progesterone years after the menopause may be at greater risk of developing the disease.
  • Heavy alcohol intake – While a moderate amount of alcohol has been shown to be beneficial to health in some studies, Binge or heavy drinking have both been linked to an increased risk of developing dementia.

A leading dementia specialist has said that “dementia is not inevitable”. It is thought that in a quarter of people destined to develop the most common causes of dementia it can be stopped or significantly delayed. It is never too early or late to start thinking about what you could do to protect yourself.

Flu season is upon us!

Flu season is upon us!


Winter is on it's way and that means coughs, colds and flu! For many people, having flu means a week in bed with some TLC but for others it can be very serious, requiring hospitalisation and may even be fatal.

Certain groups of people are more at risk of complications from flu (see below.) These groups should have an annual flu vaccine.

Contrary to popular belief, flu vaccine does NOT give you flu! You may feel a little “off colour” following the vaccine, but if you develop true influenza it is because you have been in contact with an infected person PRIOR to having your jab. You may develop flu for up 2-3 weeks after receiving the vaccine as it takes this amount of time for the vaccine to confer protection. If you develop flu after your flu jab, I’m afraid it is because you have caught it from somebody before the vaccine has had time to “kick in”.

Everybody over the age of 65 is advised to be vaccinated as many older people die needlessly each year following complications associated with flu.

You should also consider vaccination if you have:

Any chronic lung disease, including chronic bronchitis, emphysema, cystic fibrosis and asthma. It is also recommended for any child who has previously been admitted to hospital with a chest infection.

Heart disease including angina and heart failure, or if you have ever had a heart attack.

Kidney disease including nephrotic syndrome, kidney failure, a kidney transplant.

A serious liver disease such as cirrhosis.

A weakened immune system, including those who are receiving chemotherapy or steroid treatment, if you have HIV/AIDS or if you have had your spleen removed.

Certain serious diseases of the nervous system such as multiple sclerosis.

Or if you are a pregnant woman


Other groups who should consider vaccination are health care workers, people who work with poultry and those who live in nursing homes or other residential institutions.

Flu vaccines are now available so don’t delay in booking yours!


Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a thin ligament that connects the front of the foot to the heel. It supports the arch and enables mobility.Sometimes this ligament can be overused and or overstretched and develop minute tears. Repeated use of the damaged ligament results in inflammation and then plantar fasciitis can occur.

A sudden sharp stabbing pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel may be the first symptom. Plantar fasciitis is a very common orthopaedic complaint and is often called runner’s heel.

Causes of Plantar fasciitis

There are a number of factors that can contribute to plantar fasciitis. Men can get it but it is more common in women. You’re more likely to get this condition as you get older or if you:

Are overweight
Take up a new form of exercise or increase the intensity of your usual regime suddenly
Are on your feet for several hours each day
Have other medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
Normally wear high heeled shoes and then switch to flat ones.
Wear foot wear which is worn out with no arch support and thin soles.
Have flat feet or an unusually high arch.
Have legs of different lengths or have an abnormal walk or foot position.
Have tight Achilles tendons


Pain in the bottom of your foot, especially at the front or centre of the heel bone.
Pain that is worse in the morning when getting out of bed or when standing up after a long period of sitting and also when doing exercise especially in non supportive shoes.


Plantar fasciitis is quite easy to diagnose because of the fairly unique symptoms such as pain on getting out of bed which gets better after a few minutes and pain when pressure is applied to a specific area of the foot but not other areas. After taking a history your family doctor can be fairly certain of a diagnosis. Occasionally they may suggest an X-ray to exclude a stress fracture.


The initial treatment is usually conservative. You may be advised to avoid any exercise that makes the pain worse. Further treatment advice can be given by a qualified Podiatrist such as Philip Mann at the Family Medical Centre Albir



The Core Team

Dawn Blythe

Clinic Director, Practice Midwife

Yvonne Evans

Clinic Director, Nurse

Dr. An Croonenborghs

General Practitioner

Jane Evans