Tag Archives: Dementia

New cases of dementia in the UK fall by 20% over two decades

The UK has seen a 20% fall in the incidence of dementia over the past two decades, according to research by the University of Cambridge. However, the study suggests that the dramatic change has been observed mainly in men.

Some good news on the dementia front

While the media has suggested that the number of people with dementia is set to mushroom as the population ages, several recent studies have suggested the picture is more complex. Measures which improve health such smoking reduction and attention to diet and exercise may be driving a reduction in risk.

The researchers found that the incidence of dementia – the proportion of people developing dementia in a given period – across two decades has dropped by 20%. These findings suggest that in the UK there are fewer than 210,000 new cases per year compared to an anticipated 250,000 new cases based on previous levels.

It is not clear why rates among men have declined faster than those among women, though it is possible that it is related to the drop in smoking and vascular health improving in men.

Dementia will affect 1 in 3 people in the UK

Unless more is done to tackle dementia, one in three people born in the UK today will develop the disease in their lifetime, warns a recent report from Alzheimer’s Research UK. It suggests 27 per cent of men and 37 per cent of women born in 2015 will develop the condition.

Caring for our loved ones. It may be us one day.

Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK and is caused by brain diseases, most commonly Alzheimer’s, which result in the loss of brain cells and impair the brain’s ability to function properly.

Since age is the biggest risk factor for dementia – the condition is most common among those aged 65 and older – rising dementia rates have been attributed to increases in life expectancy.

Previous research by Alzheimer’s Research UK suggests the number of dementia cases could be reduced by a third if onset of the condition could be delayed by five years. But experts claim lack of funding for dementia research is one of the greatest barriers to prevention and treatment for the condition.

No cure in sight for Alzheimer’s

There used to be a regular stream of stories in the media about a cure for cancer being just around the corner. After several decades cancer is much better understood but there is still no ‘magic bullet’.

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the ‘new cancer’ with millions of pounds being spent looking at the cause of the disease. There was a frisson of excitement in the media in April when a study in the US found that in mice, in the early stages of the disease, some immune cells that normally protect the brain undergo changes and begin to chew up arginine, an important amino acid.

The researchers found they could stop the immune cells destroying arginine with a drug called difluoromethylornithine (DFMO). When they tested it on the mice, it prevented the brain plaques and memory loss that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

This is interesting but only serves to highlight that scientists haven’t been able come up with a cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s disease because they still don’t know exactly what causes it. They can see what happens to patients and predict what will happen but don’t know how or why – yet.

Dementia hits women the hardest

The impact of dementia is being felt disproportionately by women, according to the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK.


Not only has dementia become the leading cause of death among women, but women are more likely to become carers of people with dementia, the charity says.

Currently 850,000 people are living with dementia across the UK and 61% of them are women. The condition, which is caused by brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, results in distressing symptoms including memory loss, confusion and personality changes, which get worse over time.

Dementia is the leading cause of death for women in the UK, accounting for 12% of women’s deaths in 2013.

Between 60 and 70% of all unpaid dementia carers are women, and women are more than twice as likely to provide intensive, 24-hour care than men.

Healthy body – healthy mind?

September was World Alzheimer’s Month and a report released to mark the event points out that some of the ‘modern’ diseases which plague today’s population, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, could be linked to an increased risk of dementia in later life.

Healthy mind

A person with diabetes, for example, has a 50% higher risk of developing dementia, according to the report. Studies in the elderly have also shown a link between smoking and dementia. While risk is similar between ex-smokers and people who have never smoked, those who continue to smoke are at much higher risk of dementia.

It is important, says the report, to ‘preserve brain health during mid-life’ as people who enter old age with well-developed, healthy brains have a reduced chance of developing dementia. The changes in the brain responsible for dementia can begin decades before symptoms appear, so, like saving into your pension fund, it is never too soon to start looking after your health. A visit to the pharmacy for advice would be a good start.