June 25, 2007
More than 26 million people worldwide are currently living with Alzheimer's disease. That number will quadruple to more than 106 million by 2050 unless effective treatments or a cure are found, and more than 40 percent of those will require nursing home or other intensive forms of care.
Those are the findings from a study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They were presented this week at the Second Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Prevention of Dementia in Washington, D.C.
"We face a looming global epidemic of Alzheimer's disease as the world's population ages," said the study's lead author, Ron Brookmeyer, PhD, professor in Biostatistics and chair of the Master of Public Health Program at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. "By 2050, 1 in 85 persons worldwide will have Alzheimer's disease. However, if we can make even modest advances in preventing Alzheimer's disease or delay its progression, we could have a huge global public health impact."
According to Brookmeyer and his co-authors, interventions that could delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease by as little as one year would reduce prevalence of the disease by 12 million fewer cases in 2050. A similar delay in both the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease would result in a smaller overall reduction of 9.2 million cases by 2050, because slower disease progression would mean more people surviving with early-stage disease symptoms. However, nearly all of that decline would be attributable to decreases in those needing costly late-stage disease treatment in 2050.
The largest increase in the prevalence of Alzheimer's will occur in Asia, which currently accounts for 48 percent of the world's Alzheimer's cases. The number of Alzheimer's cases there is expected to leap from 12.65 million in 2006 to 62.85 million in 2050. At that time, Asia will account for 59 percent of the planet's Alzheimer's cases.
The Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation continues to fund vital research into the underlying causes of Alzheimer's and the search for a cure.
These figures underline the urgent need for new and effective approaches to Alzheimer's treatment. To learn more, visit www.ALZinfo.org.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Ron Brookmeyer, Elizabeth Johnson, Kathryn Zieger-Graham, H. Miachel Arrighi: "Forecasting the Global Burden of Alzheimer's Disease," Alzheimer's & Dementia, June 2007.