By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are a growing problem in this country and there have been several large studies suggesting the growing obesity problem can be making things worse as well.

We know that many forms of dementia, many that are confused with Alzheimer’s, can be due to cardiovascular issues. For instance, people can flip tiny clots to the brain, clots that are all but invisible to our best methods of testing. These clots can damage brain cells and they can affect the way they work.

The news is dramatic. In a landmark study among older women, obesity, high blood pressure, and a low level of hdl, the good cholesterol, collectively labeled metabolic syndrome, were each associated with a 23% increased risk for cognitive impairment.

This is very important and it shows the importance of diet and exercise in our lives. This is something you can do to reduce your risk.