Hearing loss the largest modifiable risk factor to prevent dementia

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Researchers find: Hearing loss could be the largest modifiable risk factor for prevention of dementia.

The 2020 Report of The Lancet Commission, Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care has been released (July 30th, 2020). The latest research states that if 12 modifiable risk factors were completely eliminated, from childhood to late life, it could reduce the number of dementia cases by 40%. 

Of these 12, hearing loss in midlife remains the largest modifiable risk factor, estimated to account for 8% of the risk[1].

12 Modifiable Risk Factors for dementia:

- Hearing impairment - Physical inactivity
- Education - Diabetes
- Hypertension - Low social contact
- Smoking - Excessive alcohol consumption
- Obesity - Brain injury
- Depression  - Air pollution

The study follows on from the Lancet Commission Report, published in the 2017, which revealed nine key risk factors for dementia. As well as adding three new risk factors, the latest findings also outline some clear and actionable recommendations for individuals to help minimise their risk of dementia. These include leading an active life from mid into later life, addressing a hearing loss in mid-life by wearing hearing aids and protecting your hearing by reducing exposure to high noise levels, as well as other lifestyle factors.

Illustrating the scale of the issue, 1 in 3 people born in the UK this year will develop dementia in their lifetime, without life-changing preventions and treatments. There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and this will increase to over one million by 2025 and over two million by 2050[2].

A recent BSA survey[3] from 2019 indicated that more than 50% of people do not believe that they are able to reduce their risk of developing dementia. This shows there’s clearly much to do here to increase people’s awareness of the steps they can take.  

There’s currently 12 million people with hearing loss across the UK[4], that's around one in six of us but 40% of these people are still undiagnosed and taking on average up to 7 to 10 years to address the issue.  80% of those people who could benefit from a hearing aid are still not using one.  

The earlier a hearing loss is detected and treated, the better the outcome for the person. Hearing loss can occur at any age but becomes more common over the age of 50. In addition to immediate benefits of better hearing, as this report highlights, treating hearing loss could have an impact on dementia rates. 

Hearing tests with Hidden Hearing’s expert Audiologists are FREE, without obligation and readily available at our Clinics on the high street. In addition to potentially better hearing, you might just be doing something that will help prevent a bigger issue in your future.

If you’re concerned about your hearing, get in touch now to arrange a free consultation.

[1]  thelancet.com/article/S0140-6736(20)30367-6/fulltext
[2] dementiastatistics.org/statistics-about-dementia/prevalence/
[3] dementiastatistics.org/statistics-about-dementia/public-perception/
[4] actiononhearingloss.org.uk/about-us/research-and-policy/facts-and-figures/