While the global epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease continues to grow, new data on lower incidence in the “youngest old” from developed countries in Europe and the United States suggest the possibility of reducing risk and/or preventing the disease, according to the results of several research studies announced at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2014 (AAIC 2014) in Copenhagen. Scientists suggest higher education levels and more aggressive treatment of cardiovascular disease may be key.
Pointing in the other direction, researchers reported at AAIC 2014 that incidence and prevalence of Alzheimer’s in developing countries such as Colombia, and large regions of Asia and Africa, may be severely underreported. They also raise questions about the effects of the growing incidence of obesity and diabetes in developed countries, both of which are associated with increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
“The good news is that recent trends in developed countries in Europe and the United States suggest that reduction and possibly even prevention of Alzheimer’s disease might be possible – but, at the same time, we must acknowledge the growing worldwide epidemic,” said Maria Carrillo, Alzheimer’s Association vice president of Medical and Scientific Relations. “We must continue efforts to halt this terrible scourge that devastates families and economies.”
“According to new data reported at AAIC 2014, Alzheimer’s and dementia incidence and prevalence in developing countries may be much higher than previously thought, and rising rates of obesity and diabetes pose an unknown but potentially serious threat to cognitive health throughout the world. Many questions remain, and the only way we can get the answers is through more research,” Carrillo said.
There are hints in the literature that engaging in more challenging mental activities, such as higher levels of education or intellectually demanding occupations, may increase cognitive reserve and thereby reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
With the support of the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s community, the United States created its first National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease in 2012. The plan includes the critical goal, which was adopted by the G8 at the Dementia Summit in 2013, of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025. It is only through strong implementation and adequate funding of the plan, including an additional $200 million in fiscal year 2015 for Alzheimer’s research, that we’ll meet that goal.
Date: July 15, 2014
Source: Alzheimer’s Association
Filed Under: Drug Discovery