The changing prevalence and incidence of dementia over time — current evidence
Nature Reviews Neurology
© 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.
Reason for embargo
Dementia, a syndrome of cognitive decline severe enough to interfere with daily functioning and independent living, has been the subject of increasing focus for policymakers, civil organisations and multidisciplinary researchers. A substantial body of the most recent descriptive epidemiological research on dementia is allowing investigation of how prevalence and incidence might be changing across time. To establish clear trends, such comparisons need to be based on population-based studies using similar diagnostic and research methods over time. This review synthesises findings from nine prevalence trend studies and five incidence trend studies from western European countries (Sweden, Spain, UK, the Netherlands and France), the US, Japan and Nigeria. These population-based studies, apart from the Japanese study, have reported stable or declining prevalence and incidence and evidence of both inconsistent and similar changes in men and women within and across countries. No single risk or protective factor has been identified to fully explain these trends, but major societal changes in western societies and improvement in factors potentially associated with risk and protecting such as living conditions, higher education attainment and wider availability of healthcare might have favourably influenced multiple factors related to physical, mental and cognitive health across the lifecourse and could be responsible for this reduced risk of dementia in later life. Analytical epidemiologic approaches combined with translational neuroscientific research may provide a unique opportunity to explore underlying mechanisms of neuropathology and dementia in the general population. The findings from these studies provide robust evidence for developing fruitful avenues for prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Springer Nature via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 13, pp. 327-339