Is the Risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia Declining? Evidence From Around the World

Saturday, February 13, 2016: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Marriott Balcony A (Marriott Wardman Park)
The number of older adults with dementia will increase around the world as the population ages in the decades ahead. Approximately 4.2 million adults in the United States currently have dementia, and the economic cost attributed to their care is nearly $200 billion per year. Worldwide, an estimated 44.3 million people have dementia, at a total cost of $604 billion per year. Worldwide prevalence is expected to triple to 135.5 million by 2050 if dementia prevalence rates remain constant. However, multiple recent population-based studies of dementia incidence or prevalence in the United States, England, Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark suggest that the age-specific risk of dementia may actually be declining in high-income countries, which could help moderate the expected increase in dementia cases accompanying the growing number of older adults. A number of factors, especially rising levels of education and more aggressive treatment of key cardiovascular risk factors, are believed to be driving this trend toward declining dementia risk. Whether this trend will continue in the face of rising world-wide levels of obesity and diabetes, and whether similar trends are also occurring in low- and middle-income countries, are key unanswered questions with enormous implications for the extent of future impacts of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia on patients, families, and societies.
Kenneth Langa, University of Michigan
John Haaga, National Institutes of Health
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