Biden administration to focus on risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease

The Biden administration pledged Monday to accelerate research into risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias.

The announcement was part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ annual update to its national Alzheimer’s disease plan, which for the first time includes a new goal focused on promoting healthy aging. health and risk reduction that may contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias.

HHS recognized in a press release that diseases cannot be prevented, but said there is growing evidence that tackling risk factors like high blood pressure, physical inactivity and chronic disease can reduce the chances of developing dementia.

An estimated 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia, a number that is expected to more than double by 2060. The HHS has said family and friends provide the majority care for people with dementia, which disproportionately affects blacks and Latin Americans.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to take care of a loved one,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “I’m grateful that I was able to be there for my family members, but not everyone is so fortunate. We have to make it easier.”

In addition to accelerating research on risk factors, HHS plans to strengthen the infrastructure necessary to translate these findings into interventions that reduce the burden of risk factors, with particular emphasis on activities promoting the risk factor. health.

The National Alzheimer’s Project Act, enacted in 2011, tasked the HHS secretary to update the plan annually with input from HHS agencies and other federal departments.

A number of age-related processes combine to cause cognitive impairment and dementia, said Dr. Walter Koroshetz, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health, in a report. communicated. Evidence shows that the wear and tear of high blood pressure on the blood vessels of the brain contributes to the loss of brain function with aging.

“The good news is that blood pressure can be controlled, and aggressive blood pressure control dramatically reduces the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia,” Koroshetz said. “We are excited about the new goal of using the knowledge we already have to make a difference. “

Advocacy group UsAgainstAlzheimer’s has said it supports adding the new goal to prioritize prevention, and called the HHS move “a great victory and a huge step forward.”

“For too long, too many people have mistakenly believed that cognitive decline is an inevitable part of aging, and this new goal should spur new awareness and new actions to promote brain health”, George Vradenburg, co -founder and president of UsAgainstAlzheimer, said in a press release.

UsAgainstAlzheimer’s said this was the first major step the Biden administration took to deliver on its promise to cure Alzheimer’s disease. The group said the next step in helping patients would be for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to “reverse their historic Medicare Part B premium increase” now that Biogen has agreed to cut the price of its controversial anti-cancer drug in half. Alzheimer’s disease, Aduhelm.

In November, CMS attributed the 15% increase in Part B bonuses to the potential cost of Aduhelm. Patient advocates are now arguing that the premium hike should be lowered. Although the CMS apparently did not change the bonuses after the fact, sources told Modern Healthcare the agency could.

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