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Design | 21st August 2015

The dementia ‘time bomb’ – not about to explode

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A study published in the Lancet medical journal, by the University of Cambridge shows that the number of elderly people living with dementia in the UK has fallen, contrary to predictions that cases would soar. Researchers believe that improvements in health and levels of education might be protecting people from the disease.

Data from five studies from the Netherlands, UK, Spain and Sweden showed that the proportion of people with the condition had stabilised over the periods covered by the studies – which ranged from nearly 20 years to almost 30. But in the UK, cases have fallen. Data from 1991 suggested that 8% of over-65s in the UK would have dementia in 2011, yet the team in Cambridge said the figure was in fact 6%. It means there are around 670,000 people with the condition rather than the 850,000 figure regularly cited.

The Alzheimer’s Society said its figure of 850,000 people with the condition was based on 60 studies. However, it said there was a “new and emerging” picture showing that dementia might not be increasing as rapidly as previously thought however they warned there was no guarantee the improvements would continue.

Risk factors for developing dementia include:

  • diabetes
  • vascular disease
  • stroke
  • hypertension
  • depression
  • smoking
  • little exercise

With the current increasing trends in obesity and diabetes, we cannot afford to be complacent. We all need to take measures to adopt healthy lifestyles now which could have a real impact on the numbers of people living with dementia in the future.

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