Global dementia cases forecasted to triple by 2050
New analysis shows a decrease in prevalence due to education countered by increase due to heart health risk factors.
Positive trends in global education access are expected to decrease dementia prevalence worldwide by 6.2 million cases by the year 2050. However, anticipated trends in smoking, high body mass index and high blood sugar are predicted to increase prevalence by nearly the same number – 6.8 million cases. Taken together, these opposing trends come close to balancing each out. This data came from the new global prevalence data reported recently at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2021 in Denver, US and virtually.
With these forecasts incorporated, researchers with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine reported at AAIC 2021 that they estimate the number of people with dementia will nearly triple to more than 152 million by 2050. The highest increase in prevalence is projected to be in eastern sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East.
“Improvements in lifestyle in adults in developed countries and other places — including increasing access to education and greater attention to heart health issues — have reduced incidence in recent years, but total numbers with dementia are still going up because of the ageing of the population,” said Dr Maria C Carrillo, Alzheimer’s Association’s chief science officer. “In addition, obesity, diabetes and sedentary lifestyles in younger people are rising quickly, and these are risk factors for dementia.”
The US National Institute on Aging estimates people over the age of 65 will make up 16 percent of the world’s population by 2050 — up from eight percent in 2010.
Also reported at AAIC 2021 were two other prevalence/incidence studies. Key findings include:
• Each year, an estimated 10 in every 100,000 individuals develop dementia with early onset (prior to age 65). This corresponds to 350,000 new cases of early onset dementia per year, globally. Incidence rates for men and women were similar, and were highest for Alzheimer’s disease, followed by vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia. Stevie Hendriks, a student at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and his colleagues conducted a systematic literature review of all studies published during the past 30 years that reported figures on how many people developed dementia before the age of 65, despite data being limited. “Our findings should raise awareness in healthcare professionals, researchers and policymakers because they show that a significant number of people are newly affected by young-onset dementia every year,” Hendriks said. “This shows the need for investment in tailored healthcare for this special patient group and more research into how we can best support but also prevent and treat young-onset dementia.”
Kristen Clifford, Alzheimer’s Association’s chief programme officer, added that people living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s face unique challenges when it comes to diagnosis, family, work, finances and future care and that support and information is available. “You have the power to make a new plan and determine how you choose to live your best life with the disease,” she said.
• From 1999 to 2019, the US mortality rate from Alzheimer’s in the overall population significantly increased from 16 to 30 deaths per 100,000, an 88-percent increase. Rural areas across the US were shown to have higher mortality rates from Alzheimer’s compared to urban areas. Those rates were highest in rural areas in the East South Central region at 274 per 100,000 in those 65 years and older, more than three times that of urban areas in the mid-Atlantic region in which mortality rates were the lowest.
(** PHOTO CREDIT: Alzheimer’s Association)