Elderly less at risk for dementia than decade ago, Dutch researchers say
Thanks to better healthcare and lifestyle factors, the elderly people of today are less at risk of dementia than the elderly of a decade ago, according to a large international study led by Erasmus MC in Rotterdam and the Harvard School of Public Health. But due to the aging population, the absolute number of people with dementia is still increasing, the Volkskrant reports.
The researchers analyzed seven major population studies in the United States and Europe, in which nearly 50 thousand people over the age of 65 participated. They found that the 70-year-old of today is 13 percent less likely to develop dementia than the person who turned 70 in 2010. In the previous twenty years, the risk of dementia also decreased by around 13 percent every decade.
The researchers linked the decrease to better treatment of cardiovascular diseases, increased level of education, and changes in lifestyle factors - less smoking and drinking and more exercise.
Dementia, a collective name for various brain diseases of which Alzheimer's is best known, is the second most common cause of death in the Netherlands, after cardiovascular disease. About 280 thousand Dutch people have dementia, according to the Volkskrant.
"The figures show that we can influence dementia," lead researcher and physician-epidemiologist Frank Wolters of Erasmus MC said to the newspaper. "We can reduce the risk of the disease."
According to Wolters, the new figures show that the average Dutch person in 1990 had about a 27 percent chance of developing dementia in their lifetime. Thirty years later, that risk has decreased to about 18 percent.