Focus on Risk Factors for Stroke and Dementia Saved Lives, Money
Fewer people died or needed expensive long-term care when their physicians focused on the top risk factors for stroke and dementia, according to research reported on July 17 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Primary care physicians in the German study focused on high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation), and depression. The researchers found that during a 5-year period, the need for long-term care was reduced by 10% in women and by 9.6% in men.
“Primary prevention pays off,” said Horst Bickel, PhD, lead author of the study. “Prevention measures have a potential for improving health in old age, which has up to now not been satisfactorily exploited.”
He described these interventions as “relatively simple,” such as encouraging patients to:
- be more physically active;
- eat healthier foods;
- quit smoking;
- reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Dr. Bickel said he is confident that the results can be applied in the U.S. and in other Western populations that suffer from similar sedentary lifestyle-related illnesses. He points to smoking, lack of exercise, and obesity as the main culprits.
Visit the AHA Web site for more information.