Think Brain Health recommendations

The message “what’s good for the heart is good for the brain” needs to be widely communicated and understood. So, we encourage policymakers and public health bodies that provide health information to the general public to act on the Think Brain Health recommendations.

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Healthcare professionals and administrators will continue to play a key role in the management of people with, or at risk of, a neurodegenerative brain disease and we encourage them to act on the Think Brain Health recommendations.

We encourage researchers and organizations that fund scientific research to help healthcare professionals and society to avert a future health crisis. Further work is needed to develop treatments for neurodegenerative brain diseases and validate diagnostic tools to identify people at risk. Meanwhile, healthcare decision-makers can start to pave the way for the advent of national programmes, with appropriate consideration of all ethical implications, that facilitate earlier disease detection and intervention. To this end, the authors recommend that additional funding for research is provided to meet the Think Brain Health goals.

Health promotion recommendations
  • Protect and provide the public health budgets to improve public understanding of how to promote brain health and promote a positive approach that helps to prevent neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Encourage behaviours at all ages that help to improve brain health, such as healthy eating and taking adequate exercise.
  • Provide a supportive environment, including national guidance and legislation when appropriate, that empowers individuals to make important lifestyle changes.
  • Prepare for the likely growth in the demand for genetic testing by people who want to understand their risk of a neurodegenerative disease. This should involve establishing rigorous support systems and processes, including training healthcare professionals to counsel individuals who have undergone testing and to share their test result in an ethical and regulated way.
  • Provide access to available and effective treatments in a timely manner.
Clinical recommendations
  • Refer anyone with a suspected neurodegenerative disease to specialist, multidisciplinary services, if they are available.
  • Provide follow-up to individuals, in the form of multidisciplinary services, for ongoing, widely accessible holistic care, including prevention information, treatment options and support.
Research recommendations
  • Improve our understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms of the at-risk and presymptomatic phases of neurodegenerative disease.
  • Increase our understanding of diagnostic and progression markers, particularly during the presymptomatic and prodromal phases, to help to track the disease course and severity.
  • Determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions to promote brain health.
  • Identify which tests for disease detection and diagnosis have optimal accuracy, availability and affordability.
  • Assess the relative weights of different risk factors (e.g. lifestyle, genetic and molecular factors) and the interactions between them, so that decision-makers can decide how to prioritize them and address them.
  • Understand the extent to which an individual’s awareness that he or she has strong risk factors for a neurodegenerative disease may motivate them to change their behaviour, and how best to support that behaviour change.
  • Agree on policy and recommendations about the appropriate support required for a tested individual before and after a health check.
  • Investigate the risk and protective factors involved in specific neurodegenerative diseases and neurodegeneration in general, at both the individual and societal level (e.g. by improving infrastructure and social capital).
  • Develop, validate and approve tests, tools and apps for monitoring brain health at an individual level by working in collaboration with regulatory authorities and stakeholder groups, including researchers, clinicians and funding bodies.
  • Ensure that data from research are made publicly available and pooled to maximize their usefulness in developing the best diagnostic tools and treatments.
  • Ensure that research results are provided, in a sensitive manner, to study participants, and that appropriate support is given.