Study finds global rate of dementia has more doubled since 1990

The researchers found that 22.3 per cent of healthy years lost due to dementia in 2016 were due to modifiable risk factors, suggesting that there is significant potential for prevention. ― AFP pic
The researchers found that 22.3 per cent of healthy years lost due to dementia in 2016 were due to modifiable risk factors, suggesting that there is significant potential for prevention. ― AFP pic

MELBOURNE, Dec 22 ― New Australian research has found that the number of people living with dementia around the world has more than doubled between 1990 and 2016 from 20.2 million to 43.8 million.

Led by the University of Melbourne and the University of Washington, the new analysis looked at the global, regional and national burden of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias from 1990 to 2016.

The findings, published in The Lancet Neurology, showed that dementia was more common in older age groups, with the prevalence doubling every five years over age 50.

In addition, the researchers found that 22.3 per cent of healthy years lost due to dementia in 2016 were due to modifiable risk factors, suggesting that there is significant potential for prevention.

“In our study, 22.3 per cent (11.8-35.1 per cent) of the total global disability-adjusted life years lost due to dementia in 2016 could be attributed to the four modifiable risk factors ― being overweight, high blood sugar, consuming a lot of sugar sweetened beverages and smoking,” the authors said.

Because dementia develops over at least 20 to 30 years before it is diagnosed, lead author Professor Cassandra Szoeke said studies needed to investigate cognition long-term over 20 to 30 years to determine when and for how long interventions are needed in order to prevent disease.

She noted that most trials last just one to five years rather than the necessary 30 years.

“In addition, when you look over decades there are so many exposures that impact on our health, you need to account for all these things or you could miss a factor that is crucial in the development of disease,” she added.

Professor Szoeke predicts that by 2050 the number of people living with dementia could be around 100 million.

“Chronic diseases are becoming the leading causes of death and disability worldwide, and whilst we continue to work daily on new therapies to target disease, at home we really need to focus more on the health choices that we know extend both disease-free and disability-free survival.” ― AFP-Relaxnews

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