Dementia cases expected to almost triple across the world by 2050 (BBC)

Carolina Williams
February 25, 2022

A Lancet study published in January 2022 reports that dementia cases are predicted to increase almost three-fold by the year 2050.This is largely a result of ageing populations, but other risk factors include obesity, smoking and diabetes. Studies like this enables Government’s, healthcare professionals and other relevant bodies to anticipate and prepare resources and support to help this population.

Food for Thought

Why is it important to analyse the risk factors for dementia?

By analysing the different factors contributing to dementia, we are then able to implement specific measures to reduce this risk. If we know certain lifestyle factors such as smoking and diet can increase risk of developing dementia, we can educate the population about this and introduce public health strategies to target this. What low-cost but effective strategies do you think can be introduced? Whilst age and genetics play a role in increasing a person’s risk of developing dementia, these variables are harder to modify. Therefore, it is easier to try and eliminate the lifestyle risk as this is within our control.  

Do you think the risk factors for dementia are the same worldwide?

The Lancet study mentioned that not every country or region in the world is expected to see this rise in dementia cases in the future. This is useful to know, as we can then compare the modifiable (and genetic) risk factors between such global populations to understand why certain areas have a lower risk compared to others. Using this information, scientists and public health experts can devise strategies to help reduce the risk factors in the more high-risk areas. What kind of differences in risk factors do you think they may observe? 

Practice Interview QUestions
  1. How may clinicians and public health/the government help to decrease the predicted rise in dementia cases?
  2. How may clinicians and public health/the government help to prepare for a suspected increase in dementia cases?
  3. Can you think of any long-term effects an increase in dementia cases may have on the NHS? 
Extra Reading (optional)

Read the Lancet paper here: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(21)00249-8/fulltext