The greatest risk factor for dementia is advanced age. Inheriting the genes associated with Alzheimer's or Huntington's disease is a risk factor. Untreated infectious and metabolic disease and substance abuse also can lead to dementia.

Other risk factors include the following:

  • Brain tumor
  • Cardiovascular disease (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis)
  • Diabetes
  • Head injury
  • Kidney failure, liver disease, thyroid disease
  • Vitamin deficiencies: B12, folic acid, B1 (thiamine)

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 02 Jan 2000

Last Modified: 01 Dec 2014