MICRA Director co-authors report on Dementia risk factors

Professor Alistair Burns, MICRA Director, has co-authored “Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission”.

The 2017 Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care modelled nine potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia. These consist of: less education, hypertension, hearing impairment, smoking, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, and low social contact.

The new 2020 report, authored by an esteemed group which includes MICRA Director Professor Alistair Burns, identifies three more risk factors for dementia with newer, convincing evidence. These factors are excessive alcohol consumption, traumatic brain injury, and air pollution.

The executive summary of the report states:

“Keeping people with dementia physically healthy is important for their cognition. People with dementia have more physical health problems than others of the same age but often receive less community health care and find it particularly difficult to access and organise care. People with dementia have more hospital admissions than other older people, including for illnesses that are potentially manageable at home. They have died disproportionately in the COVID-19 epidemic.”

The report makes the following recommendations for those with dementia:

Provide holistic post-diagnostic care

  • Post-diagnostic care for people with dementia should address physical and mental health, social care, and support. Most people with dementia have other illnesses and might struggle to look after their health and this might result in potentially preventable hospitalisations.

Manage neuropsychiatric symptoms

  • Specific multicomponent interventions decrease neuropsychiatric symptoms in people with dementia and are the treatments of choice. Psychotropic drugs are often ineffective and might have severe adverse effects.

Care for family carers

  • Specific interventions for family carers have long-lasting effects on depression and anxiety symptoms, increase quality of life, are cost-effective and might save money.

Read the report here.

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