A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association reveals that physicians' focus on stroke and dementia risk factors led to lower risk of deaths and requirement of expensive long term care.
The primary care doctors in the German study focused on high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) and depression. The researchers found that during a five-year period, the need for long-term care was cut 10 percent in women and 9.6 percent in men. Based on data collected in a comparison district, 2,112 deaths were expected in the intervention group, but only 1,939 patients died. "Primary prevention pays off," said Horst Bickel, Ph.D., lead author of the study and senior researcher at the Department of Psychiatry at the Technical University of Munich in Germany. "Prevention measures have a potential for improving health in old age which has up to now not been satisfactorily exploited." He described these as "relatively simple" interventions, such as encouraging patients to:
- be more physically active;
- eat healthier foods;
- quit smoking;
- reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol.