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Alzheimer Europe’s European Parliament lunch debate focuses on the potential for interventions in the earlier stages of dementia and dementia prevention

Tuesday 27 February 2018

On 27 February Alzheimer Europe (AE) held a successful lunch debate in the European Parliament which focused on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia. The lunch debate gathered over 50 people including MEPs Heinz K. Becker (Austria), Deirdre Clune, (Ireland) Marian Harkin (Ireland), Rory Palmer (UK) and Keith Taylor (UK). The audience included representatives from 20 Alzheimer Europe member associations, several pharmaceutical companies.

Iva Holmerová Chairperson of Alzheimer Europe opened the debate and welcomed all participants. The lunch debate looked at the potential for interventions in the earlier stages of dementia and dementia prevention. Europe is already financing several key research initiatives in this area illustrating the importance of EU research programmes to address this promising field of dementia prevention. During the discussion the speakers looked at social innovation, modifiable risk factors through nutrition, physical exercise, blood pressure and cholesterol control etc. as well as the development of pharmacological interventions working on the underlying brain processes.

The first speaker, Kate Irving, Professor of Clinical Nursing at Dublin City University, Ireland spoke about reducing dementia risk by targeting modifiable risk factors in mid-life and the lessons of the In-MINDD project which promotes long term brain health and prevention to at least delay the onset of dementia

The second speaker was Edo Richard, Neurologist at the Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam and Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, Netherlands from the European Dementia Prevention Initiative (EDPI) a project connecting European researchers and dementia projects.

The final speaker was Prof Craig Ritchie from the European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease (EPAD) IMI project who looked at what the project can offer in terms of research into prevention. EPAD is about creating a novel environment for testing numerous interventions (drugs and non-pharmacological interventions) targeted at the prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia.

All speakers agreed that more could and should be done in the area of prevention. Currently there is a much higher focus on basic research and clinical research but research should start to focus more on prevention. Just defining dementia as a medical disease is too limiting because if it is defined as more than just the neurological impairment then maybe there are things everybody can do to prevent it.

Iva Holmerová, Chairperson of Alzheimer Europe, announced the publication of AE’s two new publications, the 2017 Yearbook on “Care standards for residential care facilities in Europe” and the Ethics report on “Dementia as a disability?” Iva Holmerová then thanked everybody for coming and the AE corporate sponsors of the event, Lilly, MSD and Roche. The next AE European Parliament lunch debate will be on 26 June 2018 and will be entitled “Dementia Care in the European Union”. A full report can be read hereunder (PDF download).