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Preventing dementia and cardiovascular disease via internet

Since early this month the AMC coordinates a European research project which was awarded a 5.8 million euro grant from the EU. The aim of the HATICE project is prevention of dementia and cardiovascular disease in the elderly. With this grant a new easily accessible internet platform for elderly will be developed, with readily available nurse-support.

Elderly people often have several health problems at the same time ('multi-morbidity'): From dementia to diabetes and the aftermath of a stroke. The most important risk factors for these conditions are well known: Sedentary lifestyle, overweight, smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Reducing these risks is the first step towards healthy aging.

But it is currently no well known which interventions are most effective to motivate elderly to engage into a healthier lifestyle. The European HATICE-project (Healthy Aging Through Internet Counseling in the Elderly), which is coordinated by AMC-neurologist Edo Richard, is designed to gain more insight into this issue. HATICE comprises the development of an interactive internet platform, which will support elderly in the process to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia. The platform will be supported by specialized nurses, who can continuously be contacted by phone, email, chat or Skype.
Of this major EU-grant 1.9 million euro will be available for the AMC. The rest will be divided amongst the other members of the research consortium, including the Karolinska Institute, UMR1027 Inserm - University of Toulouse, the Universities of Eastern Finland and Cambridge and partners from the ICT-world (Novapten and VitalHealth Software).

At the AMC and other European medical centres, three large dementia prevention studies among elderly people are ongoing. From AMC the so-called preDIVA study is following over 3500 elderly. Half of these people receive care as usual according to current guidelines. The other half regularly visits a practice nurse at the general practitioners office, who systematically addresses all risk factors for cardiovascular disease and provides advice for a healthier lifestyle. 'Richard': With HATICE we will develop an ICT-system to facilitate the analysis of data from the three ongoing trials together. This will eventually allow us to draw conclusions about different treatment strategies from a pool of 6400 elderly.

That knowledge will be used for the development of the new, easily accessible internet platform, which will have important differences from the existing systems. For instance by taking into account that many elderly people have multi-morbidity and don't just suffer from one medical condition. Interactive questionnaires and contact with the specialized nurses will guide the user towards personalized advices, which will cover the full range of cardiovascular risk factors. In addition the platform will provide motivational video's among other strategies to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

To investigate the efficacy of the platform, within HATICE a randomized controlled clinical trial among 4600 elderly is planned. With this trial the researchers hope to find out whether the use of an internet intervention platform can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia and which aspects of such an intervention are most successful.

For more information go to www.hatice.eu.

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