A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine presents groundbreaking findings in the fight against dementia. The study has opened a new avenue in dementia prevention and management. Conducted over a span of two years, the study focused on evaluating the impact of personalised risk-reduction strategies on older adults at elevated risk of dementia.
The research, led by Kristine Yaffe, MD, and her team, involved 172 adults aged between 70 and 89 years, all exhibiting two or more risk factors for dementia. These participants were recruited from primary care clinics associated with Kaiser Permanente Washington and were part of a trial named the Systematic Multi-Domain Alzheimer Risk Reduction Trial (SMARRT).
The trial’s innovative approach involved assigning participants to either a personalised risk-reduction intervention or a health education control group. The intervention included health coaching and nurse visits focusing on personalised goals related to dementia risk factors, while the control group received standard health education materials.
After two years, the study found that the intervention group demonstrated notable improvements in cognitive scores, risk factor profiles, and overall quality of life compared to the control group. The intervention group showed a 74% improvement in cognitive scores and a 145% improvement in risk factor profiles. These findings indicate that personalised interventions can have a substantial impact on reducing dementia risk factors and enhancing cognitive function in older adults.
The study also noted an improvement in quality of life among the intervention group, although the results were not statistically significant. Importantly, the intervention was found to be safe, with no significant difference in serious adverse events between the two groups. However, the intervention group reported more treatment-related adverse events, such as musculoskeletal pain, which were manageable.
The results of this trial are particularly significant in light of the increasing prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). With the limited availability of effective treatments and preventions for ADRD, the study’s findings offer a beacon of hope. The success of the SMARRT trial suggests that personalised, multidomain interventions targeting lifestyle, medical, and behavioural risk factors can be a practical approach to mitigating dementia risk in older adults.
While the study presents promising results, it also highlights the need for further research. The trial was conducted in a specific setting with a particular participant profile, suggesting the necessity for larger, more diverse studies to validate the findings. Additionally, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic during the trial posed challenges, indicating the need for adaptable and resilient research methodologies in future studies.