Oct. 4, 2023 – A lot of researchers are searching for risk factors that increase the chance someone will develop dementia or, specifically, Alzheimer’s disease. That’s good, because the more we know about potential risks, the more we may be able to prevent it. 

There is no cure for dementia, and an estimated 10% of Americans over age 65 have it, including 6.7 million with Alzheimer’s disease. 

And, moving forward, these numbers are expected to rise. 

A treatment for early Alzheimer’s disease, lecanemab, was approved by the FDA this year, giving some people hope. But what about the “worried well,” people who are cognitively normal and would like to prevent dementia? 

Without definitive studies to say, “This causes dementia,” investigators look for associations. It’s an early form of research that can reveal a link between a risk factor and dementia/Alzheimer’s. It doesn’t mean things like sleep apnea, constipation, or childhood nightmares definitely cause dementia. But these studies can help point future researchers in the right direction. 

WebMD and our sister site for health care professionals, Medscape, have published a number of these association studies since the beginning of this year. The following infographic, created by Emily Berry, includes some of the highlights. And after the graphic you’ll find links to the stories about dementia risks that we’ve written in 2023. Note: Medscape requires registration to read stories, but it’s free. 

dementia/alzheimer's infographic