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Dementia to Quadruple Says Alzheimer's Disease International

Dementia “set To Quadruple” Says Lancet Report - Developing Countries Hardest Hit

A new case of dementia arises every seven seconds with the number of people with dementia set to double every 20 years, says a report in the Lancet today. The report, produced for Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI), comes 100 years after the first description of Alzheimer's disease and estimates that 24.3 million people currently have dementia, with 4.6 million new cases annually. By 2040 the number will have risen to 81.1 million.

The study highlights that most people with dementia live in developing countries: 60% in 2001 rising to 71% by 2040. The rate of increase is predicted to be three to four times higher in developing regions than in developed areas. Already, many more people with dementia live in China and its neighbours (6 million) than in either Western Europe (4.8 million) or North America (3.4 million). By 2040 there will be as many people with dementia in China alone as in the whole of the developed world put together.

These alarming new figures are a call to action for governments worldwide. “We are faced with a ticking time bomb,” explained ADI's chairman Orien Reid. “Governments must start to plan policy, and allocate health and welfare resources for the future. Another cause for concern is that millions of these cases of dementia are going undiagnosed meaning that, through ignorance and stigma, people aren't receiving the care and services that they so desperately need.”

“There is already a great need for community based services, welfare and support and these new figures show that pressure on governments for dementia services will increase dramatically in the next few years. This need has to be addressed now,” said Professor Martin Prince, who co-ordinated the study with Dr Cleusa Ferri.

The report concluded that there needs to be a climate for change, but this must start by correcting a fundamental lack of awareness among policymakers, clinicians and the public. ADI works to raise international awareness of the disease and in 2006 will be marking the centenary of when Alzheimer's was first described with a series of events culminating in a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro for World Alzheimer's Day on 21st September 2006.

“The Centenary year is an opportunity to bring attention to the worldwide implications of these new figures,” said Michael Lefevre, Executive Director of ADI. “ We have come a long way in the last 100 years but if things remain as they are, with limited recognition of this devastating disease, the next 100 years looks bleak.”

Twelve experts, led by Dr Cleusa Ferri and Prof Martin Prince, reviewed epidemiological studies from all world regions. The experts reached agreement, based on the evidence, on the proportion of the older population likely to be affected by dementia in each region. These proportions were then applied to UN population estimates to arrive at the total numbers of people with dementia.

Researchers used UN population estimates to produce prevalence figures for both men and women in five age bands from 60 to 84, and for those aged 85 and over.

The research includes all types of dementia -it does not break down prevalence for Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and so on.

The countries and areas with the largest number of people with dementia are:

China - 5 million
European Union - 5 million
USA - 2.9 million
India - 1.5 million
Japan - 1.1 million
Russia: - 1.1 million
Indonesia: - 1 million

Alzheimer's Disease International is the international federation of 75 Alzheimer associations around the world. ADI was founded in 1984 and is based in London. ADI has been in official working relations with the World Health Organization since 1996. The president of ADI is Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, daughter of Rita Hayworth, who had Alzheimer's disease.

Dementia is a progressive degenerative brain syndrome which affects memory, thinking, behaviour and emotion. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. Declining memory, especially short-term memory is the most common early symptom of dementia. Other symptoms include difficulty performing familiar tasks, disorientation to time and place, poor or decreased judgment and changes in personality.

World Alzheimer's Day is celebrated on 21 September each year. The day was launched with the support of the World Health Organization in 1994. ADI co-ordinates events as well as the production and distribution of materials around the world.

For more information about ADI please go to:


Last Updated ( Aug 22, 2006 at 03:54 PM )