WHO's Advice on Dementia: Exercise and Don't Smoke

Share

Dementia, which affects memory, thinking, language and judgement, results from a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain.

"People can reduce the risk of developing dementia by getting regular exercise, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels".

Maria C. Carrillo, chief science officer of the Alzheimer's Association in the United States, said there was substantial evidence that there were things people could do to reduce the risks. The scientific evidence gathered to draw up the guidelines, Tedros said, "confirm what we have suspected for some time, that what is good for our heart, is also good for our brain".

About 50 million people now have dementia, and Alzheimer's disease is the most common type.

Neerja Chowdhary, a World Health Organization expert, said that the study had not looked at smoking marijuana and did not include environmental factors, although there was some evidence of a link with pollution, and there was too little evidence of a link with poor sleep to include it in the recommendations. "Additionally, the disease inflicts a heavy economic burden on societies as a whole, with the costs of caring for people with dementia estimated to rise to US$ 2 trillion annually by 2030". They can also guide policymakers and other authorities on how to develop programs and strategies that move people to live healthier lifestyles. There are around 10 million new cases of dementia every year, and this statistic is expected to triple by 2050, according to the report.

The WHO says that, although there is not a strong evidence base to suggest that such interventions will preserve cognition, they do encourage a lifestyle that is known to be good for overall health. Dementia is a major cause of disability and dependency among older people.

And they hint that an active social life could also be beneficial, pointing to studies showing that social disengagement can place older individuals at increased risk of cognitive impairment.

Among WHO's recommendations for managing this growing public health issue is the creation of national policies and plans.

World Health Organization said that iSupport was now being used in eight countries, adding that the organisation will soon facilitate the adoption of the programme by more countries.

Tens of thousands of people in Ireland are now living with dementia. Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia.

Share