By John Findlay, PhD, on behalf of the Think Brain Health Steering Committee
The delay and prevention of neurodegenerative brain diseases through lifestyle changes and the anticipated benefits of ongoing research were the topics of a 2-day virtual conference, Think Brain Health – a policy, clinical and research challenge, held in November 2020.
The conference covered key aspects of the Think Brain Health initiative, which is endorsed by EAN, highlighting the need to act early to:
- promote public understanding that preventing brain disease is possible and that ‘what is good for the heart is good for the brain’
- prepare healthcare professionals to manage people with or at risk of neurodegenerative brain disease
- prioritize research and build infrastructure to enable prevention, early detection and management of neurodegenerative brain disease.
A key discussion topic was delivery of interventions by primary care services aimed at alleviating modifiable risk factors for dementia and the distinct savings this provides to healthcare systems. Patients also highly value information about dementia risk estimation and shared decision-making; therefore, effective communication is key.
Furthermore, determining individual risk scores for all neurodegenerative brain disorders will aid healthcare professionals in managing populations – of those at risk and those already diagnosed. Identifying and managing at-risk populations will also require programmes that encompass risk profiling, early detection and personalized prevention plans. An additional consideration is that rates of adherence to separate treatment programme interventions have been shown to vary. Therefore, public health strategies need to be personalized and consumer-focused to ensure engagement.
Finally, next steps encompassing encouragement, enhanced communication and education will help guide the development and implementation of suitable risk-reduction interventions – by embracing population-level factors and areas of importance to the individual that will encourage adherence to interventions. If you were unable to attend the conference or want to revisit any of the presentations, you can find them all on theThink Brain Health website.