Targeting 12 Modifiable Risk Factors Throughout Life Could Reduce Dementia Cases by 40%
HMC Experts Advocate Early Adoption of Healthy Lifestyle Changes to Delay or Prevent Dementia
Doha, 05 April, 2021: The Lancet Commission 2020 report on ‘Dementia prevention, intervention, and care’ has estimated that the number of dementia cases worldwide could be reduced by 40% if 12 risk factors for the condition could be fully eliminated.
Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) National Dementia Risk Reduction team is working to raise public awareness of 12 modifiable risk factors that have been identified as potentially having a significant impact on a person’s overall health and their propensity for getting some form of dementia later in life. The risk factors include less education in early life. Hearing loss, Traumatic brain injury, Hypertension as well as Diabetes and Obesity in middle life. Smoking, Depression, Social isolation, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and air pollution make up the remaining risk factors.
Dr. Hanadi Al Hamad, Qatar’s National Health Strategy lead for Healthy Ageing and Chairperson of the Department of Geriatrics and Long-Term Care at HMC explained that the National Dementia Risk Reduction program is an important initiative of the Qatar National Dementia Plan: “We are working jointly with clinical experts across multiple disciplines to promote international best practice guidelines that address risk factors for brain health”.
“Early-life risks, such as less education, have been shown to affect cognitive reserve, which is essentially the mind’s resilience in coping with damage of the brain. The midlife and later-life risk factors affect the reserve and may trigger changes in the brain that lead to symptoms of dementia,” said Dr. Al Hamad. “While some risk factors cannot be modified, such as age and family history; other modifiable risks can be incorporated in healthy lifestyle changes that can help to improve the quality of life in older age.”
“Younger people need to realize that their lifestyle habits can have a significant impact on their health in later years, including brain health. Our aim is to raise awareness of these modifiable risk factors and encourage better health and wellness practices for all adults, but especially in middle age, to encourage a healthier older age,” added Dr. Al Hamad.
Dr. Bhaskaran, Geriatric Consultant at HMC, advised that different research studies have concluded that there is convincing evidence for physical activity being a significant factor in protecting against all types of dementias, such as Alzheimer's disease.
“Dr Bhaskaran added, “Regular physical activity is also important for managing hypertension, obesity and diabetes, which are three of the 12 dementia risk factors. We therefore encourage people of all ages to adopt an active lifestyle along with consuming healthy and balanced nutrition to nourish both the body and the mind.”
Particularly in mid-life, obesity is associated with other non-communicable diseases, including an increased risk of memory loss in later life. Evidence suggests that losing weight has many cardiovascular benefits, such as improving heart health, as well as reducing the risk of diabetes, which can also help reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Dr. Noora Al-Kaabi, Consultant in Community Medicine and Clinical Lead of the Geriatric Wellness Clinic in the Qatar Rehabilitation Institute, said that early diagnosis and intervention is important to future health outcomes.
“We encourage adults to do regular health screening tests as prescribe by your doctor. People over the age of 60 can visit their Primary Health doctor or make an appointment with the Geriatric Wellness Clinic to undergo a range of health screening tests, including hearing, obesity and fitness,” said Dr. Al-Kaabi. “The Geriatric Wellness Clinic aims to identify potential health risks that can increase with age. Our multidisciplinary teams help to diagnose health issues that may not have been addressed previously and promote healthy lifestyle interventions for the individual patient.”
People aged 60 and over can call the Tawasol helpline on #40260400 between Sunday to Thursday from 7am to 3pm to book an appointment for a health and wellness assessment and treatment advice at the Geriatric Wellness Clinic.
RAHA - the National Alzheimer’s and Memory Services Helpline is a confidential service which offers support and guidance to people aged 60 and above who are living with Dementia and memory loss and their carers. The helpline (40262222) is available between 8am to 3pm from Sunday to Thursday.
A guide to healthy ageing and geriatric services can be found on a special website: https://www.hamad.qa/healthyageing