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Can dementia be prevented? Brain aging in a population-based context.

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  • 1University of Michigan, School of Public Health, Epidemiology, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104, USA.


As a consequence of global aging of the human population, the occurrence of cognitive impairment and dementia is rapidly becoming a significant burden for medical care and public health systems. By the year 2020, the WHO predicts there will be nearly 29 million demented people in both developed and developing countries. Primary and secondary prevention of dementia through individual and population-level interventions could reduce this imminent risk. Vascular risk factors such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dietary fat intake, high cholesterol, and obesity have emerged as important influences on the risk of both vascular and Alzheimer's dementia. Understanding the reasons for differences between populations in genetic vulnerability and environmental exposures may help to identify modifiable risk factors that may lead to effective prevention of vascular and Alzheimer's dementia.

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