Older, But Not Necessarily Wiser

Best Brain Protection campaign from the International Federation on Ageing aims to empower older Canadians with knowledge and understanding about brain health

TORONTO, June 2, 2014 /CNW/ - Protecting our brain as we age is vital to preserving our overall health. New research shows brain health is top of mind for Canadians, with 86 per cent[1] admitting they are concerned about the health of their brain as they age. However despite this concern, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent)[2] of Canadians are not taking active steps to protect this vital organ.  With June marking the start of activities to recognize older Canadians, the International Federation on Ageing (IFA), an authority on issues related to aging, today supports the Best Brain Protection Campaign to raise awareness and educate older Canadian about how to protect the health of their brain.  

"With Canadians living longer than ever, brain health is an increasingly important issue that we all need to pay attention to," says Greg Shaw, Director of International and Corporate Relations, IFA.  "The goals of the campaign include providing up to date and accurate information about some of the best ways to age in good health, and encouraging older Canadians to take action in protecting one of their most significant assets, so that they can take advantage of their later years in a full and active way." 

Know the facts and protect your brain health
The survey also found that the majority of Canadians are concerned about their brain as they get older.[3]  For example, only two per cent of Canadians are most worried about atrial fibrillation[4] (AF), a common heart condition especially for those 55+[5] that can cause one of the most debilitating kinds of stroke called an ischemic stroke, a blood blockage to the brain.[6],[7]

Brain Booster
Of Canadians who know that it's possible to maintain brain health as they age, more than half (51 per cent) admit that they don't know how to.[8]  Moreover, only fourteen per cent of Canadians have talked to their doctor about their risk of stroke and have taken active steps to protect the health of their brain.[9]

Dr. Michael Gordon, Professor of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics at the University of Toronto, and Medical Program Director of Palliative Care at Baycrest Health Sciences agrees that taking preventative strategies to maintain brain health should be a priority for all Canadians as they get older.

"The brain is the engine of our body so it's important that Canadians, especially older people, know the steps they should take to protect this critical organ," commented Dr. Gordon.  "Most are wrong in assuming there is nothing they can do to protect themselves from a stroke.  My own mother was resistant to taking medication and other preventative steps to protect herself, and ultimately passed away from a stroke."

Dr. Gordon recommends people protect their brains with three steps:

1.       Know Your Risk of AF: AF puts you at a three to five times greater risk of having a stroke.[10]  Protect your brain – know your risk, learn about the management options, and stay informed.  Go to StrokeAndAF.ca to learn more.

2.       Eat Brain Healthy: Eating a balanced diet from the four food groups may reduce your risk of stroke.[11]

3.       Keep Moving: It's never too late to get moving.   Physical activity, like walking, gardening and yoga may reduce your risk of stroke – which is especially important as we age.[12]

About Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a condition involving an irregular heart rhythm, known as an arrhythmia.[13] It is the most common type of arrhythmia, affecting approximately 350,000 Canadians.[14] Individuals with atrial fibrillation have a risk of stroke that is three to five times greater than those without AF.[15] AF-related strokes tend to be more severe and can cause greater disability,[16] including paralysis, pain, loss of speech and understanding.[17]

After the age of 55, the incidence of AF doubles with each decade of life[18] and up to 20 per cent of people with a first ischemic stroke (blood blockage to the brain) die,[19] and 60 per cent of first ischemic strokes in patients with AF result in disability.[20]

About the International Federation on Ageing
The International Federation on Ageing (IFA) is an international, non-governmental organization and point of global connection to experts and expertise in the field of aging.  We believe in generating positive change for older people through helping to shape and influence effective age-related and senior policies and practice. For more information about the IFA visit www.ifa-fiv.org.

References


[1] Research House Master Poll 2014. Online survey conducted among 1,000 adults 18+ yrs. old from February 7th – 12th, 2014
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid
[5] Heart and Stroke Foundation. Statistics. Atrial Fibrillation. http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3483991/k.34A8/Statistics.htm#atrialfib (Accessed April 8, 2014)
[6] American Heart Association Stroke Severity in Artial Fibrillation. Huey-Juan Lin et al. http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/27/10/1760.full (Accessed April 8, 2014)
[7] Heart and Stroke Foundation. Statistics. Atrial Fibrillation. http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3483991/k.34A8/Statistics.htm#atrialfib (Accessed April 8, 2014) 
[8] Research House Master Poll 2014. Online survey conducted among 1,000 adults 18+ yrs. old from February 7th – 12th, 2014
[9] Ibid
[10] Ball, J etal.  Atrial fibrillation: Profile and burden of an evolving epidemic in the 21st century. International Journal of Cardiology. 2013;167: 1807–1824.
[11] Heart and Stroke Foundation. The basic principles of healthy eating. http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3484231/k.19F6/Healthy_living__The_Basic_principles_of_Healthy_Eating.htm
[12] Alzheimer's Society. Stay Physically Active. http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_stay_physically_active.asp (Accessed April 8, 2014)
[13] Heart and Stroke Foundation. Statistics. Atrial Fibrillation. http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3483991/k.34A8/Statistics.htm#atrialfib (Accessed April 8, 2014)
[14] Ibid
[15] Ball, J etal.  Atrial fibrillation: Profile and burden of an evolving epidemic in the 21st century. International Journal of Cardiology. 2013;167: 1807–1824
[16] American Heart Association Stroke Severity in Atrial Fibrillation. Huey-Juan Lin et al. http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/27/10/1760.full (Accessed April 8, 2014)
[17] National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Post-stroke Rehabilitation Fact Sheet. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/stroke/poststrokerehab.htm (Accessed April 8, 2014)
[18] Heart and Stroke Foundation. Statistics. Atrial Fibrillation. http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3483991/k.34A8/Statistics.htm#atrialfib (Accessed April 8, 2014)
[19] Gladstone DJ et al. Potentially Preventable Strokes in High-Risk Patients With Atrial Fibrillation Who Are Not Adequately Anticoagulated. Stroke. 2009; 40:235-240 
[20] Ibid 

SOURCE: International Federation on Ageing

For further information: Jeanelle Awa, Environics Communications, jawa@environicspr.com, (416) 969-2670; Greg Shaw, International Federation on Ageing, (416) 342-1655, GShaw@ifa-fiv.org

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International Federation on Ageing

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