July 23, 2019

Alzheimer's Association Rhode Island Chapter response to World Health Organization report on dementia risk reduction

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(Providence, RI) - A new report published by the World Health Organization today titled “Risk Reduction of Cognitive Decline and Dementia: WHO Guidelines,” based on a review of the medical/scientific literature, highlighted that adopting a healthy lifestyle helps reduce the risk of dementia. the Alzheimer's Association Rhode Island Chapter believes that the report's findings echo much of what many studies, including those led by the Alzheimer's Association, have previously outlined.

"There is substantial evidence that there are things that people can do now to reduce their risk for cognitive decline," said Donna M. McGowan, Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association, Rhode Island Chapter. "The recommendations in the (WHO) report are similar to the Alzheimer's Associations's 10 Ways to Love Your Brain, which shows what regular physical activity, more formal education, quitting smoking, having a healthy diet, managing heart health risk factors and getting regular sleep can reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025. Since the Action Plan was released, WHO has been releasing materials for each of its seven action areas to help member states realize the goals.

The WHO report is well-conducted overview of the published data on the possibilities for reducing risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

"The evidence gaps identified in the new report echo previous calls for more research, especially large-scale clinical trials in diverse populations," said McGowan. "We are already aware of those gaps from earlier work. We have developed and are leading the US. POINTER Study, which is a clinical trial to evaluate whether lifestyle interventions that target many risk factors can protect cognitive function."

U.S. POINTER is part of a global effort to test lifestyle interventions for dementia, known as WorldWide FINGERS. WorldWide FINGERS is co-led by the Alzheimer’s Association.

"Certain parts of the world may not have the medical infrastructure to support a new drug when it becomes available," said McGowan. "Lifestyle interventions will be the first line of defense.

"This is an exciting time in Alzheimer's research. More funding is available from more sources than ever before, and there have been over 10,000 research projects since 2008. These studies are investigating multiple pathways for detection, treatment and prevention."

More information about treating and preventing Alzheimer’s and other dementias will be reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, July 14-18 in Los Angeles.

For more information on the US Pointer Study, go to alz.org. Individuals can find local clinical trials at alz.org/trialmatch.

The WHO report can be found at who.int/mental_health/neurology/dementia/guidelines_risk_reduction/en/

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