Dementia cases are expected to triple worldwide by 2050: here’s what you need to know

Globally, the number of people aged 40 and over with dementia is expected to nearly triple by 2050, with its prevalence expected to rise from 57 million cases in 2019 to 153 million cases in 2050, according to findings from a study published in Lancet Public Health.

Population aging and population growth are key factors in the projected increase in the number of people with dementia. This highlights the critical need for research focused on disease-modifying therapies, effective cost-effective interventions, and novel modifiable risk factors to prevent or delay the onset of disease. The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019 was designed to predict the prevalence of dementia from 2019 to 2050 that is attributable to 3 risk factors: high body mass index (BMI), high fasting blood sugar, and smoking.

The researchers sought to assess the relative contribution of future trends in GBD risk factors, education, population aging, and population growth by performing decomposition analysis. They used relative risks and the predicted prevalence of risk factors to predict the prevalence attributable to GBD risk in 2050 globally, as well as by world region and country.

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The analysis estimated that the number of people with dementia would increase from 57.4 million cases (95% uncertainty interval [UI]50.4 to 65.1) worldwide in 2019 to 152.8 million cases (95% IU, 130.8 to 175.9) worldwide in 2050. 2050 (overall percentage change, 0.1% (95% IU, -7.5% to 10.8%) According to GBD estimates, in 2019 more women than men had dementia globally (women to men ratio, 1.69 95% UI, 1.64 to 1.73) This trend was expected to continue until 2050 (ratio of women to men, 1.67; 95% unemployment insurance, 1.52 to 1.85).

Geographic heterogeneity was observed in the projected increases in dementia between countries and regions, with the smallest percentage changes in the number of projected cases of dementia reported in the high-income Asia-Pacific region (53%; 95 % IU, 41%-67%) and Western Europe (74%; 95% IU, 58%-90%). In contrast, the largest percentage changes in the number of projected dementia cases were reported in North Africa and the Middle East (367%; 95% UI, 329% to 403%), as well as in Eastern Sub-Saharan Africa (357%%; 95% IU, 323% to 395%).

The projected increases in cases reported in the 2019 GBD study could largely be attributed to population growth and aging, but the relative importance varied by region of the world. Population growth was responsible for most of the increases seen in sub-Saharan Africa, while population aging was responsible for most of the increases reported in East Asia.

The researchers concluded that the results of the 2019 GBD study could be beneficial for public health planning efforts, particularly with regard to “scaling up interventions to address modifiable risk factors and investing in prevention.” biological mechanisms research” to meet the needs of people with dementia and their caregivers.

Resources must continue to be directed towards a better understanding and characterization of disease mechanisms, with the goal of developing effective therapeutic agents.

Disclosure: Some of the study authors have disclosed affiliations with biotechnology, pharmaceutical and/or device companies. Please see the original citation for a full list of author disclosures.


GBD 2019 Dementia Forecasting collaborators. Estimated global prevalence of dementia in 2019 and predicted prevalence in 2050: an analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Lancet Public Health. Published online January 6, 2022. doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(21)00249-8

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