Dementia is an uncurable neurodegenerative disease that can start up to 20 years before it is diagnosed. A key priority in patients with dementia is identifying early modifiable factors that could delay the progression of the disease. Aware of this need, professors and researchers of the DeCo MICOF CEU UCH Chair for the study of Cognitive Deterioration have produced a study focused on identifying the modifiable lifestyle risk factors to prevent dementia, connecting each one to a letter of the alphabet so it is easier to disclose to the population. They have called it “How to live neuroprotected, from A to Z”. The classification also differentiates, with a colour code, the non-modifiable preventive and risk factors.
With this study, published recently in scientific journal Environmental Research and Public Health, the researchers focus on the role of community pharmacists as suitable spots to analyse cognitive deterioration due to their proximity to the patients. The research has been conducted by the team led by doctor Lucrecia Moreno, professor of Pharmacology at the CEU Cardenal Herrera University (CEU UCH) and director of the DeCo Chair, together with CEU UCH doctor and professor Mónica Alacreu and chemists José Sendra, María Gil, Hernán Ramos and Gemma García-Lluch.
Living neuroprotected, “from A to Z”
The study has identified the most frequently documented factors in scientific literature as being connected to dementia. A list of knowledge on dementia from A to Z, which can be an efficient tool for the early detection of dementia in the general population and to be disseminated. From the importance of hearing, to controlling the use of hypnotic drugs, to cholesterol levels, music and nutrition, along with other lesser-known factors that protect against cognitive deterioration, such as the use of internet, they have all been analysed and appear in this study.
Doctor Lucrecia Moreno has highlighted that the study was also created as a tool to raise awareness and for social education against dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, all the educational items included in this research work can be broadly distributed by health professionals to contribute to health education and detect dementia as soon as possible.
Community pharmacists, health educators
The study produced by the DeCo MICOF CEU UCH Chair researchers has also made it possible to learn that greater knowledge of these risk factors among pharmaceutic professionals will directly impact the health of the population. Over 350 pharmacists put their knowledge on this list of factors connected to dementia, classified from A to Z, to the test. By way of a questionnaire, the study revealed that the most identified risk factors were a family history of dementia, followed by social isolation. Whereas the lesser-known ones were herpes labialis, sleeping more than nine hours a day and bad hearing.
Also among the lesser known factors of protection against dementia are the use of Internet, avoiding contamination and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. In this sense, doctor Lucrecia Moreno highlighted that “the knowledge of pharmacists on how drugs affect factors connected to dementia must be updated in order to improve their unique situation to easily implement the detection of cognitive deterioration.”
DeCo Chair: early detection from chemists
The DeCo MICOF CEU UCH Chair was put into operation two years ago by the CEU Cardenal Herrera University and the Official School of Pharmacists of Valencia in order to contribute to the scientific interest in identifying individual susceptible of developing cognitive dysfunction as soon as possible, through the community pharmacies of the province of Valencia. “The best treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia is the early detection of mil cognitive deterioration”, stresses doctor Lucrecia Moreno.
Along with their research activity, the DeCo Chair has also promoted information and training campaigns to make the population aware of the risk factors in developing neurodegenerative diseases and to raise awareness on how a healthy lifestyle can be key in living neuroprotected.
More information on the article “Pharmacists’ Knowledge of Factors Associated with Dementia: The A-to-Z Dementia Knowledge List”, in Environmental Research and Public Health: