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Can dementia be prevented?

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 05 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4201
  1. Tobias Kurth, director of research1,
  2. Giancarlo Logroscino, associate professor2
  1. 1INSERM Unit 708—Neuroepidemiology, Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, 47 Boulevard de l’Hôpital, 75651 Paris, Cedex 13, France
  2. 2Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Bari, Policlinico, Piazza Giulio Cesare 11, 70124 Bari, Italy
  1. tobias.kurth{at}

    Modifiable risk factors exist, but targeted public health programmes are not yet warranted

    Cognitive decline and dementia pose a substantial threat to individuals and to public health, and their burden is expected to increase worldwide.1 Because effective treatments are sparse, preventive strategies are needed to delay the onset of dementia or reduce its incidence. However, before such strategies can be implemented, we need to identify which factors should be targeted and in whom.

    In the linked cohort study (doi:10.1136/bmj.c3885), Ritchie and colleagues aim to identify factors related to the development of new cases of dementia and evaluate the impact of the theoretical elimination of such factors in elderly people from France.2 Potential factors for the prevention of dementia were identified by a literature search of population and clinical studies and were broadly divided into sociodemographic, clinical, and environment or lifestyle factors.

    The study enrolled 1433 community dwelling people who lived in the city of Montpellier, France, and who were aged 65 or older at baseline between 1999 and 2001. These people were followed for the development of mild cognitive impairment or dementia for an average of …

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