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Int Rev Psychiatry. 2008 Aug;20(4):344-56. doi: 10.1080/09540260802094456.

Vascular factors and prevention of dementia.

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Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Institute of Public Health, Cambridge, UK.


The identification of modifiable risk factors that prevent dementia or slow its progression is a major public health priority. Vascular disease and its risk factors have been linked with cognitive decline and dementia, although the degree of association varies depending on differences in vulnerability related to age, ethnicity, disease co-morbidity and possibly brain reserve. Here we review current dementia prevention strategies linked to vascular modification to identify whether any approach exists that will reduce the population burden of dementia, and whether any exist that show evidence of being cost effective and safe for populations. As yet, there is no compelling evidence that dementia can be prevented through vascular manipulation by pharmacological or non-pharmacological trials. To date, no intervention can be recommended for dementia prevention at the population level including Alzheimer's Disease or Vascular Dementia. Advances in the prevention of dementia will be gained, it is argued, from a more complete understanding of the pathophysiology of disease and its causes, particularly in early life, within and across different populations and age groups. Furthermore, a more complete understanding of the earliest pre-clinical stage of disease is required for effective risk factor modification. Although the current state of knowledge cannot support public health policy for vascular manipulation for dementia prevention at the population level, this does not undermine the importance of vascular manipulation in its own right to promote healthier ageing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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