UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Celebrates Federal Government Action Making Risk Reduction for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias a National Priority
Praises HHS Secretary Becerra for adding new goal to National Alzheimer’s Plan
Washington, D.C. (December 27, 2021) –The United States today made the prevention of Alzheimer’s and related dementias a national priority in the fight to end the disease, adding a new risk reduction goal to the National Alzheimer’s Plan.
“This new goal giving greater priority to prevention is a tremendous victory and a huge step forward in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and related dementia for people across our nation,” said George Vradenburg, chairman and co-founder of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. “I’m proud of the work led by UsAgainstAlzheimer’s and our hundreds of partners that led to this milestone moment in the battle against Alzheimer’s.”
The updates to the National Alzheimer’s Plan, released today by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, include a new goal: Accelerate Action to Promote Healthy Aging and Reduce risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD). The update calls for clear strategies to achieve this goal, including additional research, strengthening the public health infrastructure, and turning risk reduction research findings into clinical practice.
Adoption of the new prevention goal is the latest recognition of how reducing the burden of risk factors such as hypertension, physical inactivity, depression may delay the onset or slow progression of ADRD and its symptoms.
“Our nation is already committed to a goal of effectively treating and preventing Alzheimer’s and related dementia by 2025, and with this new national goal, the United States commits to focus more on preventing Alzheimer’s and related dementias in the first place,” Vradenburg said. “For too long, too many people erroneously have believed that cognitive decline is an inevitable part of aging, and this new goal should spur new awareness and actions to promote brain health.”
As part of its leadership in risk reduction, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s will convene its Brain Health Partnership of nearly 200 organizations to discuss plans for implementation of the Administration’s new goal.
Needed Step to Confront a Growing Public Health Crisis
Alzheimer’s disease is a public health crisis; more than 6 million Americans are living with the disease, with nearly 14 million people expected to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by 2050.
Women and communities of color bear a disproportionate burden with women making up 2/3 of Alzheimer’s cases. By 2030, nearly 40 percent of all Americans living with Alzheimer's will be Black or Latino.
Alzheimer’s not only takes a toll on patients and their families, it has a significant economic impact. Without early intervention and treatment, care costs are projected to exceed $20 trillion over the next 30 years.
“It is imperative that people living with the disease, caregivers, doctors, and policymakers work together to stop this accelerating trend in its track, and this new priority on prevention and risk reduction is a great start,” Vradenburg said.
The National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) Advisory Council has recommended that the new goal seek a 15 percent reduction by 2030 in prevalence of 10 key risk factors. These risk factors include depression, diabetes, hearing loss, mid-life hypertension, physical inactivity, poor diet quality and obesity, poor sleep quality and sleep disorders, tobacco use, traumatic brain injury, and unhealthy alcohol use.
An aggressive 15 percent reduction per decade in the prevalence of these risk factors could result in up to 1.2 million fewer people with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2050.
How a New Prevention Goal Came to Be
Secretary Becerra’s addition of the new goal to the National Alzheimer’s plan is the latest to reflect a growing body of evidence that shows that dementia is not simply a normal part of aging, and that actions can be taken to slow, delay, or possibly even prevent cognitive decline.
In July, 2020, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s and a broad range of organizations and top leaders issued a call for a national prevention goal for Alzheimer’s and related dementias. That coalition has now increased to nearly 200 groups and leaders who support the new national goal. Later that month, the Lancet Commission released research showing that managing a dozen risk factors could prevent or delay around 40 percent of worldwide dementia cases.
In an important step, the NAPA Advisory Council in the summer of 2020 created a new risk reduction subcommittee, which was charged with developing a national goal to prevent or delay onset of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. This risk reduction subcommittee has been led jointly by Lisa McGuire of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kelly O’Brien of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s and Matthew Baumgart of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Five months ago, the Advisory Council voted to recommend addition of the new risk reduction goal to the national plan, which set in motion the update announced today by Secretary Becerra.
UsAgainstAlzheimer’s exists to conquer Alzheimer’s disease. We take on the toughest problems; bring all of “Us” together to break down barriers; advocate for research that will speed treatments to market; and drive changes that matter most to people living with the disease. We will not rest until brain-span equals lifespan - for everyone.