A study published on Friday, found that the number of people living with dementia in Western Europe, including new diagnoses has stabilized in the past 20 years. Researchers said that there might be components of dementia that might not be discovered, helping to delay the development of the condition.
Researchers studied the data from Sweden, the Netherlands, Britain and Spain, showing the percentage of people with neurodegenerative diseases of the brain of dementia, along with new cases. Carol Brayne, a professor at the University of Cambridge said the age-specific prevalence has gone down so even though the population has gotten older, the number of patients with dementia has stayed the same. However, several experts were critical of the findings.
Carol Brayne said in a statement:
“The suggested decrease in dementia occurrence coincides with improvements in protective factors (such as education and living conditions) for dementia and a general reduction in risk factors (such as vascular diseases) over recent decades,” explains Brayne. “Incidence and deaths from major cardiovascular diseases have decreased in high-income countries since the 1980s. We are now potentially seeing the results of improvements in prevention and treatment of key cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol reflected in the risk of developing dementia.”
According to the study, the decrease in levels could be linked to improved living conditions and health care. Researchers wrote that early prevention and treatment of risk factors that increase the risk of dementia also may play a role in leveling off. Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Britian’s Alzheimer’s Society said that the study is welcome in showing people in particular age groups developing dementia could be getting smaller, the overall number of people with dementia is still set to increase as more people live into their 80s and 90s.
However, Martin Prince, a professor at King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience said the evidence of declining prevalence is fairly weak. Experts supporting the study believe that healthy lifestyles could help reduce dementia risk in later-born generations.
Researchers stated that they are talking about a generation which experienced substantial post-war investments in education and socialized health care, and a partial reduction in social inequalities as a result. They added that the same kind of approach is the best way for the future.
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Dementia is a brain disorder that affects communication and performance of daily activities and Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that specifically affects parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language.[ Source ]