Time Matters. A call to prioritize brain health

Giovannoi, Gavin, Noyce, Alastair J, Scheltens, Philip, Berg, Daniela, Brown, Laurie, Dierickx, Kris, Frisoni, Giovanni B, Georges, Jean, Hardy, John, Heilbron, Karl and Trout, Ruth (2019) Time Matters. A call to prioritize brain health. [Report]

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Abstract

Brain health is about making the most of your brain and helping to reduce some of the risks to its health as you age. This report highlights the need for each of us to act now to prioritize brain health. It calls on policymakers, public health bodies and others to educate the general public about the progressive nature of the neurodegenerative diseases that are becoming increasingly widespread as people live longer. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) are the focus of this report because they are the two most common neurodegenerative diseases. PD affects more than 6 million people worldwide; AD is the most common cause of dementia and affects approximately 50 million people. The process of neurodegeneration begins many years before symptoms appear, and it may take years for an at-risk individual to progress through the presymptomatic and prodromal disease phases until a clinical diagnosis can be made. There is a 10–20-year ‘window of opportunity’ in midlife to intervene in the disease course and to potentially reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative disease and/or delay disease progression. The report summarizes the key risk factors for AD and PD, both modifiable and non-modifiable. It also discusses how implementing beneficial behaviours and potential lifestyle changes can improve brain health, just as these behaviours have been shown to improve cardiovascular health. What’s good for the heart is generally good for the brain is an important public health message. Primary prevention strategies that encourage modification of behaviour are not the only potential interventions. Population screening or health-check programmes that aim to detect disease early have been successful in some areas of medicine (e.g. cancer and heart disease). The report explores current challenges to the introduction of such programmes in the context of neurodegenerative diseases. To prepare for future advances, the authors recommend some specific areas for research, including continuing the search for effective diagnostic tools, biomarkers, drug targets and treatments. ‘Big data’ can help to identify associations between brain diseases and some of their causative factors, which could speed up the identification of drug targets. Wearable technology may also be useful in tracking an individual’s disease course and enabling personalized healthcare. Our recommendations should help those tasked with organizing health services to decide how best to prepare for the advent of national programmes that facilitate earlier detection and intervention of neurodegenerative diseases such as AD and PD. All interested stakeholders need to work together for the common goal of improved healthcare for neurodegenerative diseases. We can achieve more together than we can separately.

Item Type: Report
Keywords: Brain Disease, Health, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Neurodegenerative Diseases
Depositing User: RED Unit Admin
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2019 13:40
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2019 13:40
URI: http://bucks.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/17906

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