Reducing strokes may prevent the development of dementia

A worldwide call to action, spearheaded by Western University researcher Dr. Vladimir Hachinski, is calling for more attention to the link between reducing strokes and preventing dementia.

Approximately 747,000 Canadians live with dementia, including Alzheimer’s diseases, which represents 14.9 per cent of Canadians 65 and older. If no action is taken, that number is expected to increase to 1.4 million Canadians by 2031. By 2040, the cost of dementia could cost the health care system $293 billion a year.

Dr. Hachinski, distinguished university professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, in collaboration with 15 international researchers, has led the development of the Stroke and Potentially Preventable Dementias Proclamation, on behalf of the World Stroke Organization, to mark World Stroke Day on October 29, 2015.

All major dementias have a vascular component, including 80 per cent of Alzheimer’s disease incidents. “Silent” strokes – strokes which are not readily visible – occur five times as often as visible strokes which affect the body noticeably. These “silent” strokes may affect thinking, mood, personality and ultimately lead to dementia.

The proclamation outlines key steps to preventing and reducing strokes and dementia internationally, in developed countries, such as Canada, as well as developing nations without the health resources to deal with the rising incidence of stroke and dementia. With an aging global population, implementing reduction strategies can reduce millions of deaths and disabilities over the next decade, and reduce the significant economic burden.

“One in three of us will develop stroke or dementia,” said Dr. Hachinski. “But, there is something we can do about it. Recent evidence suggests that there are many ways to reduce our risk, for example addressing common risk factors such as tobacco use, alcohol misuse, physical inactivity, and diets high in salt, fats and sugar. Further steps include identifying ‘silent’ strokes, developing transdisciplinary teams for stroke and dementia care to improve outcomes, supporting people living with strokes, their caregivers and families, and giving individuals the tools to impact their own future risk and treatment.”

Published in the November issue of Stroke and the International Journal of Stroke, the proclamation has international support from Alzheimer’s Disease International, World Federation of Neurology, World Heart Federation, World Federation for NeuroRehabilitation, American Academy of Neurology, American Heart Association, the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer Society of Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and other regional, national and international organizations.

Read the Stroke and Potentially Preventable Dementias Proclamation http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/46/11/3039

MEDIA CONTACT: Tristan Joseph, Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, 519-661-2111 ext. 80387, c: 519-777-1573, tristan.joseph@schulich.uwo.ca

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