When you take action to protect yourself from diabetes and cardiovascular disease, chances are you also protect your brain. Results from a 2011 study published in Lancet Neurology suggest almost half of all Alzheimer’s disease cases in the U.S. can be attributed to seven modifiable risk factors: diabetes, midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, smoking, depression, cognitive inactivity, and physical inactivity. Reducing those risk factors by even 10 percent could reduce the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease by 1.1 million.
And reducing the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease would also improve our governments’ budgets. A 2014 analysis concluded that if older Americans reduced their incidence of cardiovascular diseases by 10 percent, they could save Medicare and Medicaid $37 billion (2) and reduce their risk of developing dementia. The potential economic impact of addressing these and other risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease was assessed in a recent Health Affairs article co-authored by Dr. Howard Fillit, our Executive Director and Chief Science Officer.
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