Number of dementia cases is decreasing
Fewer new cases of dementia in western industrial nations
In recent years, reports have been published over and over again, which concluded that the number of people with dementia continues to rise. But researchers from Leipzig have now published a study showing that there are fewer new cases of dementia in Western industrialized countries.
More than one and a half million Germans have dementia
According to the German Alzheimer Society, almost 1.6 million people with dementia currently live in Germany. Two-thirds of them are affected by Alzheimer's disease. In recent years it has been repeatedly predicted that the number of those affected will continue to increase - and not only in Germany. According to experts, demographic trends indicate that by 2030, more than 74 million people worldwide will suffer from dementia. Researchers from Leipzig are now reporting that the number of new cases of dementia is declining - at least in some industrialized nations.Dementia is one of the most serious diseases in old age. German researchers now report that the number of new cases of dementia is declining - at least in some industrialized nations. (Image: Ocskay Mark / fotolia.com)
Trend towards decreasing rates of new dementia dementia
According to health experts, dementia is one of the most serious illnesses in old age.
Scientists at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Leipzig are now showing a trend toward declining rates of dementia in western industrialized countries.
This means that people today 85 years of age are less likely to develop dementia than those who reached their 85th birthday one generation earlier, according to a statement from the university.
Changes in the rates of new disease due to dementia therefore prove that the risk of developing dementia can be influenced. Thus, prevention seems possible.
The results of the scientific work were published in the journal "Clinical Epidemiology".
Living conditions can vary greatly
In order to arrive at their results, the Leipzig researchers summarized in a meta-analysis current studies from industrialized nations, which examined differences in dementia rates in comparable samples with a time interval of at least ten years.
The data synthesis of seven identified studies showed a positive development in new disease rates - at least in western industrialized countries, specifically France, the UK, the Netherlands and the USA.
However, this was counteracted by the development in a Japanese study: Here even an increase in the number of new cases of dementia was recorded.
Accordingly, it can be assumed that trends in the incidence rates of dementia in the industrial nations are not developing uniformly.
"Even in industrialized countries, the life circumstances and experiences can vary greatly over the life course and thus influence the development trends of dementia differently," says Dr. Susanne Röhr of the Institute for Social Medicine, Occupational Medicine and Public Health (ISAP).
"And despite the generally very favorable living conditions that usually characterize high-income countries," says the study author.
"However, it is still too early to reach concluding conclusions, as there are very few findings available for other regions so far."
The risk of disease can be influenced by a healthy lifestyle
As stated in the communication, changes in the incidence rates of dementia show above all: the risk of developing dementia can be influenced.
The downward trend in Western industrialized countries is attributed primarily to increased education and more complex occupational requirements, as well as better care for cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases.
"More education and demanding occupational activities increase the brain's resistance to dementia," explains Prof. Dr. med. Steffi Riedel-Heller, Director of the ISAP at the University of Leipzig.
Likewise, diabetes or hypertension, which is closely related to dementia, can be better treated today.
In addition, each individual can do something to prevent dementia and Alzheimer's.
Basically, "A healthy lifestyle with lots of exercise, mental and social activity, non-smoking and balanced nutrition not only helps prevent cardiovascular disease, but also dementia," says Riedel-Heller.
Dementia is not curable at the moment, so prevention plays a special role.
Absolute number of people affected by higher life expectancy
According to the Leipzig experts, so far little research has been done on the extent to which cultural and ethnic factors as well as environmental conditions or the historical context in which populations are growing, determine trends in dementia development.
"However, this is a field in which more and more research activity is observed," says Röhr.
Analyzes of temporal trends in dementia rates from different countries and cultures help to understand the conditions under which people develop dementia - and from this, in turn, indications for further preventive effects can be gained.
However, the absolute number of those affected continues to increase, mainly due to the higher life expectancy. So dementia remains one of the biggest global challenges in the 21st century.
"Seeing that each individual and the community can do something is a ray of hope. That's why it's time to talk more about preventing dementia, "concludes Riedel-Heller. (Ad)