Worldwide dementia cases to triple by 2050 to over 150 million people

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By Quang Tran | Thursday 06 January 2022

  • Population growth and ageing thought to be driving factors
  • Increase highest in Africa and the Middle East
  • 153 million people to have dementia by 2050

Today (Thursday 6 January) research first presented at the 2021 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) is published in peer-reviewed journal, The Lancet. The data shows global dementia cases are set to triple, with 153 million living with dementia by 2050.

Population growth and ageing fuelling rise

A global collaboration of researchers have estimated global dementia prevalence from 1990 to 2019. They then used information about trends in risk factors for dementia to forecast the number of dementia cases by 2050.

The researchers suggest that the number of people living with dementia is set to increase from an estimated 57 million in 2019 to 153 million by 2050.

The researchers found the highest increases in dementia cases will likely come from sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East. This growth is driven largely by population growth and an ageing population.

Using information available on risk factors, they found that globally there would be an increase of 6.8 million dementia cases between 2019 and 2050 specifically due to poorer heart health factors, whereas improved education would account for a reduction of 6.2 million.

What our expert said:

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Dementia is our greatest long-term medical challenge. These striking figures lay bare the shocking scale of dementia across the world. Today there are already 57 million people too many living with this devastating condition, and we need to see concerted global action to avoid this number tripling.

“Dementia doesn’t just affect individuals, it can devastate whole families and networks of friends and loved ones. The heartbreaking personal cost of dementia goes hand-in-hand with huge economic and societal impacts, strengthening the case to governments across the world to do more to protect lives now and in the future.

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen how the right investment and leadership can enable innovative approaches to fast-track life-saving vaccines for COVID-19. We must see that same bold, coordinated and ambitious action to make the UK a world-leader to overcome dementia. Today’s news only strengthens our call on the UK government to honour their manifesto pledge to double funding for dementia research, to bring about life-changing treatments.

“The news that almost 7 million new global cases could be down to poor heart health must act as a wake up call for us all. There is robust evidence that what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain. Not smoking, only drinking within the recommended limits, staying mentally and physically active, eating a balanced diet, and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check can all help to keep our brains healthy as we age.

“With many thinking about new year resolutions, I would urge people to consider some simple steps we can all take to stay brain healthy. It’s never too early or too late to start and Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Think Brain Health Hub can show you how.”

You can read the full paper ‘Estimation of the global prevalence of dementia in 2019 and forecasted prevalence in 2050: an analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019’ in Lancet Public Health

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Quang Tran