HHS Adds a Sixth Goal of Alzheimer’s Prevention to the National Plan

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Plan, which originated in 2012, established five goals to both prevent future cases of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD), and to better meet the needs of the millions of American families currently facing this disease. The goals are:
·       Prevent and Effectively Treat Alzheimer’s Disease by 2025.
·       Optimize Care Quality and Efficiency.
·       Expand Supports for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Their Families.
·       Enhance Public Awareness and Engagement.
·       Track Progress and Drive Improvement.

A sixth goal has been added to the plan to focus on prevention to “Accelerate Action to Promote Healthy Aging and Reduce Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias,” through six key strategies:

Strategy 6.A: Identify Research Priorities and Expand Research on Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

Strategy 6.B: Facilitate Translation of Risk Reduction Research Findings into Clinical Practice

Strategy 6.C: Accelerate Public Health Action to Address the Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias. NACDD has been able to play a role in this strategy through a collaboration with CDC to develop brain health messaging that could be integrated into existing public health messaging. The initial Rack Cards were released in 2020 for four key risk factors related to brain health, in 2021 these are now customizable, and in 2022 NACDD is working to integrate these messages within state and local public health departments. Learn more.

Strategy 6.D: Expand Interventions to Reduce Risk Factors, Manage Chronic Conditions, and Improve Well-Being through the Aging Network

Strategy 6.E: Address Inequities in Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Among Marginalized Populations

Strategy 6.F: Engage the Public about Ways to Reduce Risks for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

Impact: According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s; by 2050, this is projected to rise to nearly 14 million.  In 2019, Alzheimer’s and other dementias cost the nation $290 billion; by 2050, these costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion. One study of how a combination of healthy lifestyle traits may substantially reduce Alzheimer’s, found that, compared to participants with no or just one healthy lifestyle factor, the risk of Alzheimer’s was 37% lower in those with two to three healthy lifestyle factors, and 60% lower in those with four to five healthy lifestyle factors.
These findings are further supported by the 2020 Report of the Lancet Commission, that modifying 12 risk factors could prevent or delay up to 40% of dementias, including less education, hypertension, hearing impairment, smoking, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, low social contact, excessive alcohol consumption, TBI, air pollution. Lancet 2020; 396: 413–46 Published Online July 30, 2020.
The Alzheimer’s Association has compiled a variety of papers on the current state of evidence on dementia and chronic disease risk factors and the implications for public health at  alz.org/professionals/public-health/public-health-center-of-excellence.

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