Dementia cases in India to double by 2050, Lancet study shows

Worldwide, the caseload is set to almost triple by 2050

By Taran Deol
Published: Monday 10 January 2022

The number of dementia cases in India is expected to almost double by 2050, according to a Lancet report. The tally will increase to 11,422,692 from 3,843,118 in 2019, according to the analysis published January 2022.  

Neighbouring countries Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan and Nepal are likely to record an increase of 254 per cent, 351 per cent, 261 per cent and 210 per cent, respectively, the assessment found. 

Worldwide, the caseload is set to almost triple to 153 million in 2050 from 57 million in 2019, said the report. Population growth and population ageing will be the leading cause behind this rise, the paper noted. 

A higher proportion of women than men will suffer from the disease during the period, the paper estimated. The projections were made based on data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 published in Lancet journal October 2020. 

The highest increase in cases is projected for North Africa and the Middle East (367 per cent) and eastern sub-Saharan Africa (357 per cent), according to the assessment. High income countries in Asia-Pacific (53 per cent) and western Europe (74 per cent) are likely to report the least growth in dementia cases. 

Among countries, Qatar is expected to lead the growth tally with a 1,926 per cent increase, followed by the United Arab Emirates (1,795 per cent), Bahrain (1,084 per cent), Oman (943 per cent), Saudi Arabia (898 per cent) and Kuwait (850 per cent). 

Growth in the number of individuals living with dementia underscores the need for public health planning efforts and policy to address the needs of this group, the analysts wrote. They added: 

Country-level estimates can be used to inform national planning efforts and decisions. Multifaceted approaches, including scaling up interventions to address modifiable risk factors and investing in research on biological mechanisms, will be key in addressing the expected increases in the number of individuals affected by dementia.

A majority of the new cases in sub-Saharan Africa in the coming years will be due to population growth, while population ageing is the leading factor in east Asia. The analysis “aimed to improve on previous forecasts of dementia prevalence by producing country-level estimates and incorporating information on selected risk factors.” 

Population change and ageing aside, increase in body-mass index and smoking also contribute to the increase in dementia cases, mostly in North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia.

The study also lists 12 modifiable risk factors propelling this case growth: Low education, hypertension, hearing impairment, smoking, midlife obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, social isolation, excessive alcohol consumption, head injury and air pollution. The study notes that 40 per cent of dementia prevalence can be tackled by working on these factors.

Currently, the prevalence of dementia is higher in women than in men. This trend will continue till 2050, with a prevalence of 0.6 per cent women between the ages of 40–69 years , 8.5 per cent between the ages of  70–84 years and 30.5 per cent of women aged 85 years and above. 

Projected prevalence for men are 0.5 per cent among those aged 40–69 years, 6.5 per cent among those aged 70–84 years and 23·5 per cent among those aged 85 years and older.

“Currently, many shortcomings exist in the identification, treatment, and care of individuals with dementia globally,” the study noted. It called for global efforts to address low diagnosis and lack of access to resources for managing dementia cases.

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