December 28, 2005
A new case of dementia arises every seven seconds, according to a comprehensive new survey on the prevalence of Alzheimer's and related disorders from around the world. Currently, 24 million people have dementia today, with some 4.5 million cases in the United States. More than half of dementia cases are related to Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia.
Researchers at Alzheimer's Disease International and the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, London, pooled data from numerous medical studies that examined the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. They concluded that there are 4 to 5 million new cases of dementia around the world each year. The researchers further estimate that the number of people with dementia is set to double every 20 years. Thus, by the year 2020, there will be some 42 million people with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. By 2040, that global number will increase to 81 million.
The rising prevalence of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia calls attention to the urgent need to find effective means to treat, and prevent, the memory-robbing illness. "Primary prevention should focus on targets suggested by current evidence," the authors write. They cite the need to combat risk factors for heart and blood vessel disease, including high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
The Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation is leading the way in the search for a cure. To learn more about risk factors, new treatments, and preventive measures you can take, visit www.ALZinfo.org.
Cleusa Ferri, Martin Prince, et al: "Global Prevalence of Dementia." The Lancet, Volume 366 Number 9503, December 17, 2005 -- January 6, 2006, page 2112.