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Dementia Cases Have Declined by 13% in US and Europe Every Decade Since 1988, Researchers Found

The incidence of dementia in those of European descent living in the U.S. and Europe has decreased by an average of 13% over the past 30 years.

Harvard T.H. According to the Chan School of Public Health, this trend could lead to 15 million fewer cases of dementia in high-income country by 2040.

Lori Chibnik (assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology) at Harvard Chan School stated that “As people age in Europe and the U.S. and increase their life expectancy, the prevalence of dementia or Alzheimer’s has dramatically increased.”

“However, our analysis has shown that the incidence or rate of new cases has been decreasing, translating into fewer dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases cases than we would have expected.”

These results were published in Neurology journal. They found that 47 million people are living with dementia worldwide. Due to increasing age, the number people with the disease will triple in the next 30 years. This is also due to the socioeconomic burden that comes with it.

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Although previous analyses indicated a decrease in incidence over 40 years, most studies were done on smaller populations.

Chibnik and co-authors combined data from seven different studies, including more than 49,000 participants with up 27 years of followup.

Researchers found that there was a decline in the incidence of this disease, and they also observed consistent trends among different populations across North America as well as Europe.

Both men and women saw an increase in incidence, but men experienced a lower rate (24%) than women (8%)

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The causes of the lower incidence aren’t clear. However, medical interventions that have an impact on blood pressure, cholesterol, as well as inflammation, may have been involved.

Researchers note that the results of this study may not be applicable to all of the world’s population due to the diversity of the participants. They recommend that future analyses incorporate more diverse populations.

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Chibnik noted that there has been a steady decline in the incidence of dementia over the past 30 years. He believes that proactive efforts such as lifestyle education and medical interventions such as blood pressure management and antithrombotic medications can reduce at least some of this burden.

“Providing evidence of a decline will be the first step in elucidating the causes and then implementing effective interventions that promote brain health.”

Source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Featured image: Maria Magdalens, CC license

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