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Health matters promotes midlife approaches to reduce dementia risk

Up to a third of dementia cases may be attributable to potentially modifiable lifestyle risk factors.

Following the recent launch of Public Health England’s One You, a ground-breaking campaign to help adults across the country make simple changes to improve their health today and in the future, PHE has launched the fourth edition of Health matters: midlife approaches to reduce dementia risk.

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect some 850,000 Britons and cost the economy £26 billion a year. If things continue as they are the number affected will rise to 1 million by 2025 and 2 million by 2050.

This latest edition of Health matters, a resource for health professionals and local government which aims to support commissioning and the delivery of local services, shows that dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing.

What is good for the heart is also good for the brain. Modifying cardiovascular risk factors has contributed to a large decline in deaths from heart disease and stroke over the past 50 years. The same could be the case for dementia.

Health matters brings together in one easily accessible package local and national level data, as well as infographics, slide sets, case studies and blogs – that will help make the case for investing in dementia risk reduction.

Using PHE’s Dementia Profile tool, for example, can help to identify local risk factors for dementia such as smoking prevalence or physical inactivity. This will help to prioritise efforts to reduce such risk factors.

Launching Health matters today, PHE Chief Executive Duncan Selbie said:

“Dementia is a critical public health concern. In the absence of a treatment or cure, it is important that we take action to reduce the numbers of people getting dementia.

“Protecting and promoting brain health has been relatively neglected. This edition of Health matters makes the case for action that will help reduce the risk of dementia in later life.”

Dr Matthew Norton, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Alzheimer’s Research UK welcomes the new Health matters resource from Public Health England, which will help healthcare professionals raise awareness of ways the public may be able to reduce their risk of developing dementia.

“In 2016, 1 person every 3 minutes will develop dementia but, recent statistics from Alzheimer’s Research UK show, only a quarter of the British public believe it’s possible to reduce dementia risk.

“Research has shown that dementia is caused by a complex mix of genetic and lifestyle factors but, by maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, not smoking or drinking to excess, keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check, the risk of dementia can be lowered in some cases.

“It’s important to be aware that age is still the biggest risk factor for dementia, and as there is not yet a sure-fire way to prevent the condition it’s vital we continue to invest in research into preventions, as well as better treatments for those cases that cannot be prevented.”

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