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Recent global trends in the prevalence and incidence of dementia, and survival with dementia

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Matthew Prina, Dr Yu-Tzu WuORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2016 Prince et al.Background: Current projections of the scale of the coming dementia epidemic assume that the age- and sex-specific prevalence of dementia will not vary over time, and that population ageing alone (increasing the number of older people at risk) drives the projected increases. The basis for this assumption is doubtful, and secular trends (that is, gradual decreases or increases in prevalence over long-term periods) are perfectly plausible. Methods: We carried out a systematic review of studies of trends in prevalence, incidence and mortality for people with dementia, conducted since 1980. Results: We identified nine studies that had tracked dementia prevalence, eight that had tracked dementia incidence, and four that had tracked mortality among people with dementia. There was some moderately consistent evidence to suggest that the incidence of dementia may be declining in high-income countries. Evidence on trends in the prevalence of dementia were inconsistent across studies and did not suggest any clear overall effect. Declining incidence may be balanced by longer survival with dementia, although mortality trends have been little studied. There is some evidence to suggest increasing prevalence in East Asia, consistent with worsening cardiovascular risk factor profiles, although secular changes in diagnostic criteria may also have contributed. Conclusions: We found no evidence to suggest that the current assumption of constant age-specific prevalence of dementia over time is ill-founded. However, there remains some uncertainty as to the future scale of the dementia epidemic. Population ageing seems destined to play the greatest role, and prudent policymakers should plan future service provision based upon current prevalence projections. Additional priorities should include investing in brain health promotion and dementia prevention programs, and monitoring the future course of the epidemic to chart the effectiveness of these measures.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Prince M, Ali G-C, Guerchet M, Prina AM, Albanese E, Wu Y-T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Alzheimer's Research and Therapy

Year: 2016

Volume: 8

Online publication date: 30/07/2016

Acceptance date: 20/04/2016

Date deposited: 21/05/2020

ISSN (electronic): 1758-9193

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.


DOI: 10.1186/s13195-016-0188-8

PubMed id: 27473681


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Global Observatory for Ageing and Dementia Care is supported by a block grant from Alzheimer’s Disease International to King’s College London