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New WHO Dementia Prevention Guidelines Evaluate 12 Risk Factors

Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, affects 5.8 million people in the United States alone.

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Worldwide, millions of people have some form of dementia and researchers are still uncertain about the exact cause of the condition. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has come up with the prevention guidelines that evaluated 12 risk factors of dementia and provided a piece of advice on how to combat them.

Last week, the WHO have released new guidelines on dementia prevention strategies.

Dementia is a neurodegenerative condition that is characterized by memory loss. In severe cases, dementia can impair one’s ability to perform normal daily activities. Even though dementia dramatically changes the lives of so millions of people and their families, researchers are still unsure of what exactly causes the condition.

However, we do have the number of risk factors that may contribute to dementia, which are modifiable because some of them are lifestyle-related.

The new WHO guidelines review existing lifestyle-related risk factors and recommend preventing them to reduce the risk of this neurodegenerative condition. The officials aimed the guidelines at medical providers worldwide. They also hope that the new guidelines will become a reliable source of information for government and private organizations.

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The WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned, “In the next 30 years, the number of people with dementia is expected to triple. We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia. The scientific evidence gathered for these guidelines confirms what we have suspected for some time, that what is good for our heart, is also good for our brain.”

The WHO evaluated 12 potential risk factors for dementia and offered advice on how to address each of them, which include:

  1. Low levels of physical activity
  2. Smoking
  3. Poor diet
  4. Alcohol misuse
  5. Insufficient or impaired cognitive reserve
  6. Lack of social activity
  7. Unhealthy weight gain
  8. Hypertension
  9. Diabetes
  10. Dyslipidemia
  11. Depression
  12. Hearing loss

Although there is no sufficient evidence that engaging more in social activities, taking antidepressants, or wearing hearing aids reduce the risk of dementia, the WHO has emphasized that being socially involved, treating depression, and treating hearing loss are imperative.

The WHO official document stated, “The existence of potentially modifiable risk factors means that prevention of dementia is possible through a public health approach, including the implementation of key interventions that delay or slow cognitive decline or dementia.” It also stated, “The goal of the action plan is to improve the lives of people with dementia, their carers, and families while decreasing the impact of dementia on them as well as on communities and countries.”

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