Published: Fri, May 17, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

World Health Organization makes first official recommendations to reduce risk of dementia

World Health Organization makes first official recommendations to reduce risk of dementia

Indeed, the number of people likely to have dementia is expected to triple, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Dementia isn't just one disease, but a variety of conditions that produce similar symptoms, including memory loss and decreased cognitive abilities.

Carol Routledge, director of Research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said dementia was the leading cause of death in Britain, but only 34% of adults realised they could reduce the risk, and the World Health Organization report helped to clarify what was known and where evidence was lacking.

The new guideline to reduce the risk of dementia even highlighted the importance of being socially active. The cost of caring for dementia patients is predicted to surge to $2 trillion by 2030.

We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia.

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"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". Studies have shown a relationship between the development of dementia with lifestyle related risk factors, certain medical conditions, and other risk factors such as social isolation and cognitive inactivity.

The agency said its new recommendations could provide the key to delaying or slowing cognitive decline or dementia.

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. They also serve as a knowledge base for governments, planning authorities and policymakers to develop programs and policies that will help encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle. But they take a firm stance against vitamin B or E pills, fish oil or multi-complex supplements that are promoted for brain health because there's strong research showing they don't work.

The guidelines also do not endorse engaging in activities aimed at boosting cognition such as puzzles and games, saying that whilst these could be good for people with normal cognition or only mild impairment, there is little research showing that they are actually beneficial in terms of preventing dementia. "This is why WHO created iSupport...an online training programme providing carers of people with dementia with advice on overall management of care, dealing with behaviour changes and how to look after their own health".

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