Reducing the risk or delaying the onset of dementia

Brain Health and Dementia Prevention in Ireland: A Discussion Paper

Cleary, O., and McAvoy, H.
Institute of Public Health in Ireland and the Alzheimer Society of Ireland.
This discussion paper presents a rapid review of evidence on the primary prevention of dementia, which is concerned with delaying or preventing the onset of dementia.
Drawing on the current evidence-base on dementia prevention internationally, the paper points to the significant potential for public health interventions to reduce dementia prevalence through more effective prevention and management of a range of modifiable risk factors for dementia including physical activity, smoking, alcohol, social engagement, cardiovascular health, high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, depression and sleep disturbance. The paper estimated that a 10% reduction in all the known modifiable risk factors could have resulted in 1,084 fewer cases of dementia in 2011, representing a reduction of 2.3% in the prevalence of dementia, but warned that these estimates should be interpreted with care. With regard to integrating a brain health and dementia prevention perspective into public health research, policy and practice in Ireland, the paper argues that actions adopted should be evidence-based and stresses that a whole of government approach is necessary and that measures to prevent dementia could be embedded in core elements of major public health policies.