Age Matters Clinic


Toronto Geriatric Assessment and Memory Clinic

Dementia & Alzheimer's Cases Dropping

Every year, our uncertainty increases knowing that we are getting older. Our bodies undergo aging and it is a natural process. What comes with being aware of your growing age is the fear that something might go wrong along the way. The future holds a couple of surprises for each one of us and aging is just a fraction of it.

Getting an awesome job, marrying the love of your life, having kids, growing old together, experiencing loss are just the initial stages. Eventually, youll enter another stage and its going to be difficult if you enter one that starts with illness.

Many of the elderly suffer from different cognitive illnesses like dementia and Alzheimers. Theres no reason to lose hope though, as there is a new study which claims the cases of these two seem to be decreasing. The New England Journal of Medicine published the findings.

The number of people who have dementia is quite alarming. It is estimated by the WHO (World Health Organization) that 47.5 million people of the world are affected by this condition. About 5.1 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease as well as other types of dementias.

There is a prediction that around 7.1 million American seniors will be diagnosed with Alzheimers by the year 2025. Thats significantly high compared to 2015. Whats alarming is that it can even be tripled to 13.8 million cases when we reach 2050.

In 1948, the Framingham Heart Study was established to look into the causes of heart diseases. The FHS started to observe participants in 1975. They looked into the cases of those with cognitive decline and dementia. The scientists investigated the cases especially the ones in the specific time periods: the late 70's, 80's, 90's, and 2000s. They checked out the risk factors which involve education, blood pressure, cholesterol and medical conditions.

The findings reveal a gradual drop in the incidence of dementia at any given age, especially in cases of dementia linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD), such as stroke. Rates fell by 20% each decade, particularly benefitting people with high school education and above.

During the late 70's and early 80's, for every 100 people, about 3.6 were affected. It suddenly fell to 2.8 in the late 80s to early 90's. It showed gradual decrease until late 90's to early 2000s as the rate shows only 2.2. And to tip the scale, from the late 2000s to early 2010s, only 2.0 per 100 people were affected.

This means that the decrease rates are 22%, 38%, and 44% versus the first period.

This assigns an important task for the treatment of stroke and prevention of heart disease to manage the frequency of dementia.

Dr. Sudha Seshadri states that there might be a possibility to reduce dementia in particular cases. Dr. Seshadri is the corresponding author, a professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and FHS senior investigator.

There are two kinds of interventions. The primary intervention aims to stop the onset of the disease. The second intervention targets to slow down the progression.

The research director of INSERM in Bordeaux, France, Carole Dufouil, states that these interventions as well as improved management of heart diseases may help decrease the problem of dementia in the future.

Now that the baby boomer generation is aging and individuals have a longer life-span, the researchers warn that dementia patients will continually increase.

The study has limitations: participants are European. This indicates there is a crucial need to look into other populations.

The research team is expectant that the findings might attract donor agencies and other research institutes to continue their investigation.