Translating current knowledge into dementia prevention
Considerable knowledge has been gained from epidemiologic studies and randomized clinical trials regarding risk factors for dementia, including Alzheimer disease (AD) and vascular dementia (VaD). Most identified risk factors for dementia are similar to vascular disease risk factors for heart disease and stroke. In 2010, the National Institutes of Health Conference concluded that there are no validated modifiable factors to reduce the incidence of AD or to change its course. This research perspective specifically concerning AD disregards the fact that in community-dwelling elderly, the most common forms of dementia involve the cerebral macrovasculature and microvasculature, manifesting as VaD and mixed dementia (the combination of VaD and AD) in autopsy-confirmed cases. Thus, prevention of dementia in clinical practice should be considered from this broader and more relevant view and not just a research perspective on "pure" AD. Practicing clinicians can reasonably state to patients that, although more definitive research is clearly needed, the management and treatment of vascular disease risk factors are likely beneficial not only to prevent heart disease and stroke, but also common forms of dementia in the community.