Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017 -- The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® 2017 (AAIC®) is the largest international meeting dedicated to advancing dementia science. Each year, AAIC unites the world’s leading researchers, next generation investigators, clinicians and the care research community to share discoveries in research that will lead to methods of prevention and treatment, and improvements in diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. This past July more than 5,000 scientists from 63 countries gathered in London. Here are a few highlights from the reports that were presented.
At AAIC 2017, the Alzheimer’s Association announced the launch of the U.S. study to PrOtect through a lifestyle INTErvention to Reduce risk (US POINTER) – a $20 million U.S. two-year clinical trial to test the ability of a multi-dimensional lifestyle intervention to prevent cognitive decline and dementia in 2,500 older adults at increased risk for cognitive decline. This study will include will include physical exercise, nutritional counseling and modification, cognitive and social stimulation, and improved self-management of medical conditions. Recruiting for the study will begin in 2018.
The Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care reported that more than one-third of global dementia cases may be preventable through addressing lifestyle factors that impact an individual’s risk. They highlighted nine potentially modifiable risk factors at multiple phases across the life-span, not just in old age. The authors conducted a new review and meta-analysis; they extended current models of dementia risk by including hearing loss and social isolation. They estimated the potential impact of elimination of the most potent risk factors, finding that roughly 35 percent of dementia cases may be attributable to nine modifiable risk factors: Early life – education to age 15; Mid-life – hypertension, obesity, hearing loss; Later life – depression, Diabetes; physical inactivity, smoking, low social contact.
Research reported at AAIC 2017 shed light on new and expanded risk factors for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. New data suggests associations between cognitive status in older people and verbal skills, hearing loss, and certain types of hospitalization.
Researchers found that people with hearing loss were roughly three times as likely to have mild cognitive impairment compared to those with normal hearing. In a separate study, speech content and fluency of study participants with mild cognitive impairment declined faster than those with normal cognition. If these findings are confirmed, hearing loss and speech pattern changes may be valuable in assessing risk for, or the beginnings of, cognitive decline as we age.
A third study found that older adults may be at higher risk for memory and other cognitive problems after non-elective hospitalizations. These procedures were associated with a roughly 60 percent acceleration in the rate of cognitive decline versus pre-hospital rates. In this study group, elective procedures were not associated with cognitive decline. These findings may have important implications for medical decision-making and care of older adults.
Other studies indicated that common sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can increase the risk of dementia, while even modest changes to one’s diet can reduce the risk. Diets studied included MIND, Mediterranean and Nordic.
Note: A complete news report of highlights from the conference can be found at http://alz.org/aaic/releases_2017/AAIC17-Thurs-overview-recap.asp.
Bill Hinrichs, associate director of programs and services diversity, inclusion & advocacy initiatives, Alzheimer's Association Northeastern New York, 4 Pine West Plaza, Suite 405, Albany, N.Y. 12205. For more information, please call (518) 867-4999.