Dementia can be Prevented in Asia and Latin America: Here’s How

Highlights:

  • The risk of
    developing dementia in low and
    middle-income countries can
    be reduced by half, reveals a recent study
  • A third of
    dementia cases is attributable to nine modifiable (i.e., can be controlled) risk factors including low education,
    smoking, hearing loss, obesity, hypertension, physical inactivity,
    depression, social isolation and diabetes
  • The prevalence of
    dementia associated with these risk factors in China is
    40 percent, 41
    percent in India and 56
    percent in Latin America; managing these
    can significantly reduce dementia cases in
    these nations

Dementia risk can be significantly reduced in low and middle-income nations if certain modifiable risk factors are
addressed earlier, as per a recent study in the University College
London (UCL), UK. The study was led by Dr Naaheed Mukadam, Department of
Psychiatry UCL.

Dr Mukadam, said: “After our previous research
finding that one in three cases of dementia could be preventable, we
realized that the evidence was skewed towards higher-income countries.”

‘A third of dementia cases is linked to nine risk factors that can be readily addressed such as low education, smoking, hearing loss, obesity, hypertension, physical inactivity, depression, social isolation and diabetes. The prevalence of these modifiable risk factors is 40% in China, 41% in India and 56% in Latin America and addressing these can significantly reduce dementia risk in these regions.’
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The findings, of the study appear in The Lancet
Global Health
, suggesting that improvement of education levels and other
health outcomes can greatly reduce the risk of
dementia
in the developing nations.

Modifiable
Risk Factors & Dementia in Developing Nations of Asia & Latin America

  • A team of
    scientists from UCL obtained data from China, India and Latin America with
    sample size ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 in each of these nations.
  • They hoped to
    determine the prevalence of dementia cases linked to the previously
    identified nine modifiable risk factors in these regions and if the risk
    factors were different compared to the developed world
  • A major
    difference in the incidence of risk factors was the lower levels of education in these countries compared to the
    west
    , and with improved education, dementia cases may see a decrease
  • By contrast, social isolation is a major risk
    factor for dementia in developed nations
    , but markedly lesser in
    China, India and Latin America. Health officials in the UK and west can
    learn from these nations to enable better-connected communities to reduce
    the risk of dementia caused by social isolation
  • Other strong risk
    factors that could be addressed included obesity and deafness in mid-life,
    physical inactivity in the elderly, smoking in old age in India and
    hypertension in middle age in China and Latin America

“Reducing the prevalence of all of these
risk factors clearly has numerous health benefits, so here we’ve identified an
added incentive to support public health interventions that could also reduce
dementia rates. The growing global health burden of dementia is an urgent
priority, so anything that could reduce dementia risk could have
an immense
social and economic benefit,”
said Dr
Mukadam.

Scope of the Study

  • Study identifies
    risk factors more relevant in developing nations compared to developed
    world suggesting that research should be inclusive in order to develop
    effective global health strategies
  • Addressing the
    risk factors and delaying the onset of dementia by five years can reduce the
    prevalence of dementia which will be a major achievement

Summary

A significant reduction in dementia cases can be achieved in
developing nations of Asia and Latin America if modifiable risk factors such as
low education levels and medical conditions such as obesity, hypertension,
diabetes and hearing loss are promptly addressed.

References :

  1. Dementia prevention in low-income and middle-income countries: a cautious step forward – (https://doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(19)30169-X)

Source: Medindia