The risk of older people developing dementia may be going down in the UK, according to epidemiological research published in the Lancet. A smaller proportion of older people living in Britain appear have the condition than experts would had predicted earlier, possibly due to improving public health.
The article compares dementia rates in people, born 20 years apart, in three areas of England (Cambridgeshire, Nottingham and Newcastle). Extrapolating from 1991 trends, experts had predicted that 8% of over-65s would have dementia by 2011, whereas the actual figures for 2011 indicated slightly over 6% had the condition.
Applied across UK, there may be 214,000 fewer cases of dementia than predicted; a 24% reduction to 670,000 people living in the UK with dementia (as opposed to the previous estimates of 800,000 – 900,000 people).
This could be because known risk factors for dementia are declining. Improvements in the management of cardiovascular disease may have resulted in a decreased risk of vascular dementia.
Roberts, M. (2013). Dementia risk in UK going down, suggests study. London: BBC News, July 16th 2013.
This relates to:
Matthews, FE. Arthur, A. Barnes, L E. [et al] (2013). A two-decade comparison of prevalence of dementia in individuals aged 65 years and older from three geographical areas of England: results of the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study I and II. The Lancet. July 17th 2013. Epub ahead of print.
Banerjee, S. Good news on dementia prevalence: we can make a difference. The Lancet. July 17th 2013. Epub ahead of print.
Alistair Burns, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Dementia, expresses similar views on this Lancet article.
Burns, A. (2013). The number of people with dementia in England: turning the tide – Alistair Burns. London: NHS England, August 13th 2013.
Readers may also be interested in the NHS Choices critical appraisal of this research:
Dementia rates dropping. London: NHS Choices, July 17th 2013.
[A version of this item features in Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWNHST), Volume 3 Issue 8, July 2013].