Dementia is a growing challenge

The Lancet Commission on dementia aims to review the best available evidence and produce recommendations on how to best manage, or even prevent, the dementia epidemic. Lancet, as one of the worlds most prestigous medical journals has released its report with a title "Dementia prevention, intervention and care" in July, 2017.

Lifebrain researchers will now comment on the figures of the Lancet Commissions and summarise its most important findings, in a series of 6 short articles.

The word dementia is derived from the Latin words de (out of) and mens (mind). Dementia is one of the biggest health issues globally with approximately 47 million people having dementia in 2015. This number is estimated to be about 131 million by 2050 mostly due to an aging population.

There is a more rapid increase in low- and middle-income countries as opposed to high-income countries (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Growth in numbers of people with dementia in high-income and low and middle-income countries, Lancet (2017)

The less rapid increase in incidence of dementia in high-income countries (compared to low-income countries) might be due to higher education (has a preventive effect) and lower levels of certain risk factors like blood pressure, in addition to unknown factors.

In addition to all these millions of individuals being directly affected by dementia, several more family members, friends, and coworkers will suffer form this serious condition.

Moreover, the costs for health care and supervision adds up to about 6600 billions Norwegian crowns or 680 billions Euros per year. Close to 85% of costs are related to family and social, rather than medical care. Future medical care, including public health measures may reduce this to some extent.

There are several causes of dementia; one is the classical Alzheimer’s disease with certain changes in the brain microstructure that can be recognized by imaging (MRI) or special chemical or microscopic methods; another major cause of dementia is linked to cardiovascular damage of the brain; a third cause of dementia has been suggested as inflammation of the brain but this is incompletely described and rather unclear. The specific causes of Alzheimer’s disease are also unclear, whereas we know much more about the causes of vascular damage of the brain.

Download the Lance Commissions report on dementia here.

Article edited by Christian A. Drevon, Lifebrain researcher. Professor emeritus of Medicine (nutrition) of University of Oslo, and consultant in the analytical contract laboratory Vitas Ltd. in Oslo Science Park. Has studied effects of nutrients and physical activity on health, with special focus on molecular nutrition and biomarkers. 

Tags: demographics, care, prevention, intervention, dementia
Published Jan. 12, 2018 3:43 PM - Last modified Jan. 30, 2018 11:13 AM