Dementia cases could increase 166% globally by 2050


January 07, 2022

3 minutes to read

Disclosures: DuFouil, Nichols and Schwarzinger do not report any relevant financial information. Please see the study for relevant financial information from all other authors.


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The number of people living with dementia globally could increase by 166%, from around 57.4 million people in 2019 to 152.8 million people in 2050, according to data from the Global Burden of Diseases study, Injuries and Risk Factors.

Overall, the researchers predicted that the smallest percentage changes in the number of dementia cases are likely to occur in the high-income Asia-Pacific region and Western Europe (53% and 74%, respectively), while that the largest percentage changes will occur in the eastern subregion. -Saharan Africa and North Africa and the Middle East (357% and 367%, respectively).

Reference: GBD 2019 Dementia Forecasting Collaborators. Lancet Public Health. 2022; doi: 10.1016 / S2468-2667 (21) 00249-8.

The United States could see a 100% increase in dementia cases, from about 5.3 million cases in 2019 to about 10.5 million cases in 2050, according to the report. Three years ago, the Alzheimer’s Association estimated that unless there was a “medical breakthrough to prevent, slow or cure Alzheimer’s disease,” there would be an estimated 13.8 million cases of Alzheimer’s dementia in the world. United States in 2050.

The new report also estimates that women will continue to account for the majority of dementia cases worldwide. In 2019, there were 100 to 69 more women than men with dementia. In 2050, researchers predict that women will be 100 to 67 more numerous than men.

The new projections were based on the prevalence of dementia attributable to BMI, high fasting blood sugar and smoking from 2019 to 2050 in 195 countries. The data was obtained through PubMed research conducted on October 23, 2020, several months before the FDA approved Aduhelm (aducanumab, Biogen / Eisai), the first new treatment to be approved for Alzheimer’s disease since 2003.

The results, published in The Lancet Public Health, to provide “improved predictions for dementia globally as well as at country level, giving policymakers and public health experts new perspectives to understand the drivers of these increases, based on the best available data” , Emma Nichols, MPH, a researcher from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington said in a press release.

“We need to focus more on preventing and controlling risk factors before they lead to dementia,” added Nichols, who is also one of the contributors to the 2019 Global Burden of Disease Forecast. on dementia. “Even modest progress in preventing dementia or delaying its progression would pay remarkable dividends. “

According to the press release, experts predict that improving access to education could lead to a reduction of 6 million cases of dementia worldwide by 2050. However, this reduction could be offset by around 7 million more cases of dementia “linked to projected rates of obesity, high blood sugar and smoking,” the statement said.

Nichols encouraged interventions that increase the availability of healthier diets, more exercise and programs that lead to smoking cessation, as well as more efforts to educate people about dementia.

In a related editorial, Michael Schwarzinger, PhD, member of the methodology and innovation service in prevention of the Bordeaux University Hospital in France, and Carole Dufouil, PhD, an epidemiologist from Bordeaux Population Health in France, said Nichols and his colleagues “kind of provide doomsday projections that do not take into account the advised lifestyle changes over the course of the life.” They also noted that the estimates are based on research “with many methodological challenges and potential biases”.

“We do not know how the meta-analyzes carried out in silos in [Global Burden of Disease] 2019 could provide sufficient evidence to select independent risk factors or interrelated conditions over an individual’s lifetime, ”the couple wrote.

For example, “the three selected [Global Burden of Disease] risk factors for dementia (including smoking) had much weaker associations than those reported in fully fitted models that included alcohol use disorder, ”they wrote.

Schwarzinger and Dufouil encouraged “a public health approach to dementia to better inform the population and decision-makers on the appropriate means to delay or avoid these disastrous projections”.

The references

2019 GBD Dementia Prediction Contributors. Lancet Public Health. 2022; doi: 10.1016 / S2468-2667 (21) 00249-8

Schwarzinger M, Dufouil C. Lancet Public Health. 2022; doi: 10.1016 / S2468-2667 (21) 00277-2.

The Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures 2018 report. https://www.alz.org/media/homeoffice/facts%20and%20figures/facts-and-figures.pdf. Accessed January 6, 2022.

The Lancet Public Health: Global dementia cases are expected to triple by 2050, unless countries tackle risk factors. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/939299. Accessed January 6, 2022. Posted January 6, 2022.


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