By 2050, more than 153 million people could have dementia, up from 57 million in 2019, a study published in the Lancet Public Health has found.
The predicted rise is largely down to ageing and growing populations, though researchers warn that unhealthy lifestyles are also a cause for concern. Risk factors that need to be addressed include high rates of smoking, obesity and diabetes, which the study suggests account for more than six million of the projected increase.
‘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,’ said Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK.
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‘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.’
The study, which looked at 195 countries, points to the importance of improvements in access to education in countries around the world and say that their projected figure for 2050 has already been adjusted downwards by 6.2 million based on what is expected to happen in this area.
‘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,’ added Ms Evans.
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‘The news that almost 7 million new global cases could be down to poor heart health must act as a wakeup 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.’