Promote brain health, prevent stroke, heart disease, dementia, says Canadian neuroscientist


PTI, Oct 31, 2021, 9:11 AM IST

Source: unsplash

Chennai: Canadian clinical neuroscientist Vladimir Hachinski on Saturday called for measures to promote brain health to prevent stroke, heart disease and dementia.

Brain health, according to him, is the basis for overall health and in the long run decreases chances of having a stroke, heart attack or dementia. “This way we can avoid a catastrophe which can happen decades later. The emphasis needs to shift from distant risk to current benefits by promoting brain health,” Hachinski, a researcher at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University, said.

“You need to target brain health to some measurable goal that the individual can commit to such as sleep hygiene, exercising and eating well. It might be a good idea to partner this commitment with someone else,” he said while virtually delivering the 41st T S Srinivasan endowment oration titled: “Promoting brain health to prevent dementia, heart disease and stroke.” Individuals with healthy brains are more productive and happier, he claimed and said a comprehensive, cost-effective approach to the joint prevention of stroke, heart disease and dementia promises accelerated progress. Dr Hachinski, also a senior scientist at London’s Robarts Research Institute, said brain health is essential for physical and mental health, social well-being, productivity and creativity.

He advocated making brain health the top priority worldwide and called upon communities to develop common measures and definitions to enhance research and policy and to apply comprehensive customised cost-effective prevention solutions in actionable implementation units.

“It is a well-known fact that stroke, heart disease and dementia, which are the greatest threats to the brain, are increasing worldwide and the situation will get worse in India. It is unfortunate that most medical practitioners consider dementia as a natural and inevitable part of aging,” he said. Only 27 of the 194 member-countries which approved WHO’s global action plan on public health response to dementia have functioning dementia risk reduction campaigns, he claimed.

“Stroke increases the possibility of heart disease and doubles the chances of developing dementia. The three share common risks and protective factors,” he claimed and said the risk factors include hypertension, lack of exercise, diet high in salt, sugar and fats. The protective factor among them is education. Hence, it makes sense to look at the three together, Dr Hachinski reasoned.

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