Ontario’s stroke prevention strategy appears to have had an unexpected, beneficial side effect: a reduction also in the incidence of dementia among older seniors.
A new paper by researchers at Western University, Lawson Health Research Institute and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) shows there’s been a decade-long drop in new diagnoses of both stroke and dementia in the most at-risk group — those who are 80 or older.
“Some have said we’re on the cusp of an epidemic of dementia as the population ages,” said study author Joshua Cerasuolo, a PhD candidate in epidemiology and biostatistics at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. “What this data suggests is that by successfully fighting off the risks of stroke – with a healthy diet, exercise, a tobacco-free life and high blood-pressure medication where needed – we can also curtail the incidence of some dementias.
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“The take-home message is that we can prevent some dementias by preventing stroke,” Cerasuolo said.
Published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, this is the first study that has looked at the demographics of both stroke and dementia across Ontario since the province pioneered Canada’s first stroke prevention strategy in 2000. That strategy includes more health centres able to manage stroke, more community and physician supports, better use of hypertensive mediation and well-promoted lifestyle changes to reduce risks. Five provinces have stroke strategies and five do not.