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GPs should offer advice on dementia to middle-aged patients, says NICE

GPs should deliver targeted advice on the prevention of dementia and disability to middle-aged patients, under draft recommendations issued by NICE.

The draft public health guidance says GPs should emphasise the benefits of stopping smoking, drinking in moderation and eating healthily in mid-life, in order to prevent or delay the onset of dementia, disability and frailty in later life, as part of the NHS Health Checks scheme.

It recommends providers of the NHS Health Checks programme, along with Public Health England and directors of public health and local authorities, should ‘develop the NHS Health Checks programme to promote opportunities in mid-life to reduce the risk of dementia, disability and frailty’, and that they should ‘tailor the advice component of the NHS Health Check programme for different age groups’ and ‘add dementia prevention advice to all health checks’.

The draft advice also calls on the Government to raise awareness among the public that they should consult their GP about poor sleep as a potential risk factor for dementia and disability.

‘Poor-quality sleep is associated with reduced quality of life and cognitive decline and may also increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease,’ it states.‘People experiencing poor-quality sleep (that is, people who are not refreshed by a night’s sleep) or daytime sleepiness may need to consult their GP.’

In addition, the guidance calls for tougher action from the Government to implement higher taxes on tobacco products and expand smoke-free policies, and introduce tighter restrictions on alcohol licensing and regulations to cut salt and fat in processed foods.

Professor Mike Kelly, director of the centre for public health at NICE, said: ‘This new draft guideline aims to help people prevent or delay dementia, disability and frailty in later life by promoting mid-life changes. This includes encouraging people to stop smoking, become more physically active, drinking less alcohol, eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight.’

Disability, dementia and frailty in later life – mid-life approaches to prevention: draft guidance


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