The number of people with dementia around the world is set to nearly triple in the next three decades.
Experts from the University of Washington expect 153 million people worldwide will have the condition by 2050, while about 57 million people are now living with dementia.
The spike will be caused by aging — the main risk factor for the condition — and growing populations, they say.
Therefore, the largest increases are expected in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, where life expectancy is lower than in the West.
Rising rates of obesity, diabetes, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle, all of which increase the risk of the condition, will lead to approximately 7 million diagnoses by 2050.
Alzheimer’s Society estimates that 850,000 people in the UK have some form of dementia, the general term for a group of symptoms caused by damage to the brain, including memory loss, problems with thinking and confusion.
According to the UK government, the Office for National Statistics, dementia is the second biggest killer in the UK after heart disease.
In the US, about 5 million people have the condition. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, causing up to 70 percent of cases.
Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine found that global cases of dementia would nearly triple from 57.4 million to 152.8 by 2050. But the rate at which the disease is expected to progress varies between different parts of the world. In Western Europe, cases are expected to increase by only 75 percent, mainly due to an aging population, while they are expected to double in North America. But the biggest increase is expected to be seen in North Africa and the Middle East, where the number of cases is expected to increase by 375 percent.
Dementia is a group of symptoms — such as memory loss, trouble thinking, and feeling confused — that are caused by damage to the brain. It mainly affects people over 65 and can also cause difficulties in understanding and moving
Lead author of the study Emma Nichols, a researcher with presented their findings at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington, presented the findings at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Colorado on Tuesday.
The team based their predictions on estimates for the current number of dementia cases worldwide, as well as trends in dementia risk factors.
Improving air quality could reduce risk of DEMENTIA: Lowering levels of pollutants could reduce chance of developing the condition by 26%, study results promising
Reducing air pollution could hold the key to warding off dementia, according to a promising new analysis of scientific studies presented today.
Researchers at the nonprofit Chicago-based Alzheimer’s Association describe three papers that pressure governments to purify our air and help reduce the debilitating condition.
The study authors looked at the effect of reducing nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less — about 3 percent of the diameter of a human hair — known as PM2.5.
In one study, reducing NO2 levels over time reduced the odds of developing dementia by more than a quarter — up to 26 percent.
When inhaled, microscopic particles in air pollution are thought to enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain where they cause inflammation – a problem that can be at the root of dementia.
But more research is needed on exactly how exposure to air pollution can cause various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
The new analysis will be reported today at the 2021 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC), which will be held in Denver and streamed online.
The researchers said cases are not expected to rise at the same level in different parts of the world.
For example, the number of cases in Western Europe is expected to increase by only 75 percent by 2050, mainly due to an aging population, while they are expected to double in North America.
These regions have less aging and growth.
In Central and Eastern Europe and Asia Pacific, cases will increase by 60 to 90 percent as they are predicted to see massive population growth in the coming decades.
The biggest increase is expected in North Africa and the Middle East, where the number of cases is expected to increase by 375 percent, the experts said.
This is due to the fact that dementia rates are relatively low compared to other parts of the world, as people only live until their early or mid 70s.
Age is the main risk factor for the disease and the average patient is diagnosed in the early 80’s.
However, researchers expect that 6.2 million cases of dementia will be prevented through improved health education.
This is probably because the number of smokers worldwide is decreasing and awareness about health risks is increasing.
Ms Nichols said the calculations will help policy makers better understand the expected increase in dementia cases and their causes.
She said: ‘The large expected increase in the number of people living with dementia highlights the vital need for research focused on the discovery of disease-modifying treatments and effective low-cost interventions for the prevention or delay of the onset of dementia.’
The research is in line with the findings of the WHO, which estimates that there are 50 million people with dementia worldwide and expects the number to reach 82 million by 2030 and 152 million by 2050.
dr. Maria Carrillo, chief science officer at the Alzheimer’s Association, said: “Improvements in adult lifestyles in developed countries and other places — including increasing access to education and a greater focus on heart health problems — have reduced the incidence in recent years, but the overall number by dementia continues to increase due to the aging of the population.
“In addition, obesity, diabetes and sedentary lifestyles in younger people are rapidly increasing, which are risk factors for dementia.”
The same researchers recently published a study in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, which found that between 1990 and 2019, the number of people dying from Alzheimer’s disease increased by 38 percent.
dr. Carrillo said the number of deaths will continue to rise after 2015 unless effective treatments for dementia are identified.
She added: ‘In addition to therapies, it is critical to discover culturally tailored interventions that reduce dementia risk through lifestyle factors such as education, diet and exercise.’
Separate research from Maastricht University, also presented at the conference, estimated that there are 10 new cases of dementia per 100,000 people each year in people under the age of 65.
This means that about 350,000 people around the world develop early-stage dementia every year, researchers say.
dr. Richard Oakley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Society said: ‘These new figures confirm our fears that many more people around the world will experience the heartache of dementia, but there is hope with decisive action.
The UK now has a fantastic opportunity to position itself as a global scientific superpower and a world leader in revolutionary social care, transforming the lives of millions of people with dementia.
“We’ve come this far since our research 30 years ago, which led to the first clinical trials of targeted treatments to slow Alzheimer’s disease. But there is still a long way to go and we need to bring the best brains in dementia research to the UK to increase our understanding of the causes, treatment and prevention of dementia.
‘All this is only possible with a substantial financial commitment. Funding has been hit hard by the pandemic and we urgently need the government to deliver on its promise to double funding for dementia research. Research is our only hope of beating dementia.’
Alzheimer’s Research UK said 2014 predictions estimate that one million Britons will have dementia by 2025, doubling to two million by 2050.
The charity said some UK-focused studies had pointed to a possible decline in the number of people with dementia in a certain age group, possibly due to higher levels of education and less smoking.
Hilary Evans, the organization’s chief executive, said: “Dementia is our biggest long-term medical challenge. These striking numbers (from the latest US survey) expose the shocking magnitude of dementia on a global scale.
“To have 57 million people already living with this devastating condition 57 million is too many, but now that that number has nearly tripled, we must now see concerted global action to change the outlook for the next generation.”
She encouraged people to make “positive lifestyle changes” to “help tip the scales in our favor” when it comes to the odds of developing the condition.
She said: ‘There is robust evidence that what is good for the heart is also good for the brain.
“Not smoking, drinking only within recommended limits, staying mentally and physically active, eating a balanced diet, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels can all help keep our brains healthy as we age.”
It is “vital” that the government “meets the urgent need for investment at every stage of the process” in the dementia research sector, she added.