Cost-saving Estimates for Dementia-Prevention Strategies in England

Priscilla Lynch 

October 23, 2020

Programmes to reduce dementia risk by targeting smoking, high blood pressure and hearing loss are likely to be cost-effective and cost saving by reducing dementia rates by 8.5 per cent, finds a new UK study.

The modelling study, published in  The Lancet Healthy Longevity,  found that the benefits would outweigh the costs of such programmes, and could save £1.86 billion each year in England.

Researchers searched PubMed and Web of Science from inception to 12 March 2020 and included interventions that successfully targeted any of the nine pre-specified potentially modifiable dementia risk factors (hypertension, diabetes, hearing loss, obesity, physical inactivity, social isolation, depression, cigarette smoking and less childhood education); had robust evidence that the intervention improved risk or risk behaviour; and are feasible to enact in an adult population.

Three interventions combined - nicotine gum to help older adults quit smoking, medication to treat high blood pressure in mid-life and hearing aids for people with moderate hearing loss in mid-life - would cost £1.08 billion annually in England, while reducing social care costs of dementia by an estimated £866 million and family care costs by £1.05 billion, the study estimated.

The NHS and social care cost savings from dementia prevention would outweigh the costs of smoking cessation and hearing loss interventions, whereas all three interventions would meet cost-effectiveness standards set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), as measured by cost per quality-adjusted life-year.

An intervention for diabetes was unlikely to be cost-effective in terms of effect on dementia alone, the study found.

Senior author Prof Gill Livingston said: “We have found that there’s a strong case for implementing dementia prevention programmes. They are cost-saving for their impact on reducing dementia rates alone, without even factoring in the additional benefits in reducing other health issues such as stroke or heart disease.”

Mukadam N, Anderson R, Knapp M, Wittenberg R, Karagiannidou M, Costafreda SG, Tutton M, Alessi C, Livingston G. Effective interventions for potentially modifiable risk factors for late-onset dementia: a costs and cost-effectiveness modelling study. Lancet Healthy Longev. 2020;1(1):e13-20. doi: 10.1016/S2666-7568(20)30004-0 View full text

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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