HCN News & Notes

UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Hails New Findings that Many Dementia Cases Could be Prevented or Delayed

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s (UsA2) applauded the Lancet Commission’s release of new research showing that managing certain risk factors could prevent or delay around 40% of worldwide dementia cases.

The new research finds that taking steps to manage or modify 12 risk factors can help prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. It is the latest in a growing body of evidence that shows that dementia is not simply a normal part of aging, and that actions can be taken to slow, delay, or possibly even prevent cognitive decline.

“The Lancet’s findings are the latest validation of the promise of preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” UsA2 said. “These promising findings give new hope to millions of people. Each of us can take steps to reduce our risk. At the same time, governments need to put in place policies to help. It is time for a national Alzheimer’s and dementia prevention goal and accountable strategies to achieve it.”

More than 100 public-health, consumer, aging, and advocacy organizations and leaders recently called for the adoption of a national, measurable, time-bound impact-prevention goal for Alzheimer’s and related dementias. The groups seek a national commitment to reducing dementia similar to past efforts to reduce heart disease and other health challenges.

“It is time to replace despair and disappointment with determination and hope; it is time to show there are steps that our nation can take to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, delay onset, and promote brain health,” these organizations said in a joint statement earlier this month.

Earlier Lancet research in 2017 had said that addressing nine risk factors could prevent or delay a third of dementia cases. The initial nine modifiable risk factors for dementia were less education, hypertension, hearing impairment, smoking, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, and low social contact, and Lancet has now added excessive alcohol consumption, traumatic brain injury, and air pollution. It said these 12 modifiable risk factors account for around 40% of worldwide dementia cases, which could theoretically be prevented or delayed. The Lancet highlighted the high potential for prevention and noted that it might be even higher in low- and middle-income countries where more dementias occur.

The Lancet Commission is among a long list of governments, nonprofits, and advisory groups —  including the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Neurology, the American Heart Assoc., and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — that are increasingly aligned in the position that it is possible to reduce the risk of, and possibly even prevent, dementia through non-pharmacological means.