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Global Dementia Cases Predicted to be Triple by 2050

 A new study predicts the number of Dementia cases will triple by 2050.

The study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), published in The Lancet, predicts a triple increase in dementia cases. According to the studies, 153 million people will be living with the disease by 2050.

Highlights:

  • The authors estimate the future impact of four known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease: obesity, smoking, low education, and high blood sugar.
  • The study estimates the rise in Alzheimer’s disease is due to population growth and population aging. By 2050, experts anticipate the number will increase from 57 million people in 2019 to 153 million.
  • The largest increase is expected to occur in north Africa, the Middle East (367%), and eastern sub-Saharan Africa (357%). Moreover, followed by increases in high-income Asia Pacific (53%), and western Europe (74%).

  • According to the experts, there could be 6 million fewer cases by implementing improved access to education by 2050.
  • However, a projected 7 million additional dementia cases linked to increased rates of high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking would cut off this decrease.
  • Researchers place emphasis on more aggressive prevention efforts to reduce Alzheimer’s risk by implementing healthy lifestyle factors such as diet, education, and exercise.

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Alzheimer’s Disease: The Most Common Cause of Dementia

A group of symptoms linked to an ongoing decline in brain function is termed dementia.

It can affect thinking skills, memory, and other related mental abilities.

While we don’t fully understand the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease, certain risk factors are associated with developing the condition.

These include:

  • Ageing
  • A family history of the condition
  • Untreated depression, although depression can also be one of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Lifestyle factors and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Head Injury
  • Less education

Currently, dementia is the seventh leading cause of death worldwide. In 2019, experts estimated the global cost associated with dementia to be around US$1 trillion. According to The Lancet: Public Health 2020, avoiding exposure to 12 known risk factors could prevent up to 40% of the cases. This includes high blood pressure, midlife obesity, low education, hearing impairment, physical inactivity, smoking, depression, diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption, social isolation, head injury, and air pollution.

The Future Geographical and Regional Burden of Dementia Disease

The study expands to the future geographical and regional burden of increasing dementia. Prevalence is expected to increase significantly in sub-Saharan Africa (357%) and northern Africa (367%). Moreover, African regions are the only ones on the list of the World Health Organisation (WHO) without a national dementia plan.

“The data highlights the severity of the public health crisis of dementia and the alarming consequences of inaction. Dementia is already the 7th leading cause of death globally. We welcome the authors’ call for the urgent deployment of tailored interventions to combat risk factors, alongside the need for increased research into effective disease-modifying treatments and new modifiable risk factors, said Paola Barbarino.

Disproportionate Burden Placed by Dementia on Women

The report on Women and Dementia (2015) highlighted that dementia affects more women than men globally. Furthermore, in 2019, women reported a higher number of dementia cases compared to men, with figures indicating 100 cases for women and 69 for men. This pattern is expected to persist until 2050. Alzheimer’s disease may spread differently in women’s brains than in men’s. Additionally, multiple genetic risk factors appear to be linked to the disease risk based on gender.

Bottom Line

Currently, only 37 member states have implemented a global action plan on the public health response to dementia. This study and these plans aim to serve as warnings for those who have yet to act.

We hope to encourage governments to adopt national dementia plans and utilise them to demonstrate the consequences of inaction.

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