- The prevalence of dementia among Americans 65 years or older fell from 11.6% to 8.8% between from 2000 and 2012, a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine found.
- This represents "a relative decrease of about 24%," the authors of the 21,057-participant study wrote.
- The improvement could be in part attributed to "increasing educational attainment and better control of cardiovascular risk factors," the authors wrote.
Dementia affects about 4 to 5 million elderly American adults, according to the authors, adding the number of adults in the U.S. and abroad with dementia is expected to grow three-fold by 2050 because of the increasing population of elderly individuals.
An April 2013 report from RAND found that dementia in the U.S. costs the country a range from $157 billion to $215 billion annually, with a per-person cost ranging from $41,689 to $56,290. The study estimated the total cost to reach $511 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars by 2040.
Hospital costs associated with patients with dementia, a condition affecting mental processes such as a decline in memory and other cognitive functions, was found to be 14% higher compared with non-dementia patients, a 2015 study published in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine found.
"[R]ecent studies suggest that the age-specific risk of dementia may have actually declined in some high-income countries over the past 25 years, perhaps owing to increasing levels of education and better control of key cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia," the authors of the new study wrote. While they note that continued monitoring is needed to better assess the societal impact of dementia, promoting better cardiovascular health could help future mental health.
“We’ve been saying now for several years that what’s good for your heart is good for your head,” Keith Fargo, Alzheimer’s Association's director of scientific programs and outreach, medical and scientific relations, was quoted in Kaiser Health News, though he noted, “Alzheimer’s is going to remain the public health crisis of our time, even with modestly reduced rates."