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Global Efforts Needed to Control Rising Incidence of Dementia

Global Efforts Needed to Control Rising Incidence of Dementia

Author -  Dr. Lakshmi Venkataraman, MD
Medically Reviewed by 
The Medindia Medical Review Team on September 6, 2019 at 5:49 PM
  • Nearly a third of late-onset dementia can be prevented, and health care and government officials should take urgent measures to reduce dementia risk and prevent the decline in brain function
  • Dementia cases are rapidly increasing at a rate of 20 percent but there is no cure in sight for this crippling condition that severely limits the quality of life, not to mention the huge burden on the family members and nation's healthcare system
  • Further research should focus on gaps in existing knowledge with regards to various types of dementia, duration of exposure to risk factors and data across various geographical areas to gain better insight and plan appropriate interventions

Several cases of late-onset dementia can be potentially prevented by addressing modifiable risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, obesity, stress, social isolation, sleep problems and even air pollution, according to a recent review of dementia research by experts and need to initiate urgent measures to reduce these risk factors.

The findings of the review and suggestions for future research have been published in a special supplement to the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease brought out by the International Research Network on Dementia Prevention (IRNDP).

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Dementia is a condition marked by progressive loss of brain cells and deterioration of higher brain functions such as memory, understanding, decision making, mood changes etc., that make a person increasingly dependent on others for daily activities and severely limits quality of life

Guest Editors Ruth Peters, PhD, and Kaarin Anstey, PhD, from the University of New South Wales and Neuroscience Research Sydney, Australia, said: "The IRNDP issue serves to highlight the substantial remaining evidence gaps and the next steps forward in this area of research. We have already achieved a lot, but now is the time to refine and develop our understanding to be able to build the next generation of dementia risk reduction interventions with translatable and applicable policies to protect human cognitive health."

Modifiable Risk Factors of Late-onset Dementia

Up to 30 percent cases of late-onset dementia can be prevented by addressing the following modifiable risk factors including: Experts say that there is increasing evidence that long-term exposure to air pollution, particulate fine particulate matter increases the risk of dementia and has to be addressed on a top priority basis to control the steep rise in dementia cases

Addressing Gaps in Existing Research

Although rapid strides have been made in understanding about dementia and the factors involved, there are still some gaps that should be addressed in future research ventures including
  • Lack of evidence regarding exposure to risk factors during middle age
  • Paucity of data on risk factors for vascular dementia
  • Scarcity of data from low and middle-income nations
  • Lack of data in specific geographical areas and population groups such as Australian Aborigines
  • Determining concentration of certain risk factors to specific regions
"Working together globally to understand risk factors for dementia relevant to specific populations, and how to bring about population level change in levels of risk, are key goals of the IRNDP," commented Dr. Anstey.

Risk Factors Associated with Dementia in Three Portuguese Speaking Nations

Studies have shown that cultural practices may influence dementia risk in certain populations, although more research is necessary to gain better insight into these aspects. After adjusting for potentially confounding factors, studies have found that 24-40 percent of dementia cases in three Portuguese speaking nations namely Portugal, Brazil and Mozambique can be attributed to seven potentially modifiable risk factors such as Just by initiating measures to reduce each risk factor by 20% over a decade could potentially decrease the prevalence of dementia in Brazil, Mozambique and Portugal by 16.2%, 12.9% and 19.5%, respectively.

Currently, there is no cure for dementia and preventive measures are likely to play a bigger role in decreasing dementia cases worldwide.

The authors state that results of ongoing studies looking at specific interventions in reducing dementia risk will be hopefully available over the next three to five years and can help get a better understanding on ways to cope with the problem better.

In summary, many cases of late-onset dementia can be prevented by addressing specific risk factors and these could go a long way in controlling the alarming rise of dementia across the world through concerted global efforts and focused research and specific interventions in target populations.

Reference :
  1. New Insights: Dementia, Risk, Risk Reduction, and Translation into Practice - (https://www.iospress.nl/ios_news/new-insights-dementia-risk-risk-reduction-and-translation-into-practice/)

Source: Medindia
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