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Nigerians living with dementia will exceed 1.4 million by 2050


A new report has estimated that more than 1.4 million Nigerians will be living with dementia by the year 2050.

The report, which is titled; “Global Burden of Disease Study,” was published on Thursday by the Lancet, a journal of public health.

The report, which is the first to provide forecasting estimates for 195 countries worldwide, indicates that about 153 million people globally will be living with dementia by 2050.

Dementia

Dementia is the umbrella term for a group of chronic conditions that are characterised by deteriorating cognitive function. The ailment is the result of damaged brain cells or neurons (nerve cells).

The brain has various regions, each with its purpose. When the cells of a part of the brain are damaged, signals, just as you would imagine in a computer, become crossed; thus, the symptoms of dementia ensue. The different types of dementia are categorised by the part of the brain affected.

The most known example of this disease is Alzheimer’s disease. With Alzheimer’s, an area of the brain known as the hippocampus, which deals with memory, is primarily affected.

ALSO READ: Dementia, a growing concern in Nigeria

Other types of dementia also include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal dementia.

While people can have more than one type of dementia, it is impossible to tell unless with a posthumous examination of the brain.

Statistics

Globally, about 50 million people are living with dementia, of which Alzheimer’s accounts for up to 70 per cent of diagnosed cases.

In Nigeria, the ailment has increased astronomically in the last 20 years, according to the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, in the Journal of Global Health Reports, published in April 2019.

The study estimated that the number of dementia cases increased by 400 per cent over a 20-year period, with 63,512 in 1995 to 318,011 in 2015 among persons aged 60 years and over.

Prevalence rate

The new report indicates that the condition is higher in women than in men. It established that in 2050, the prevalence of dementia in men globally will be 0·5 per cent among those aged 40 to 69, 6·5 per cent among aged 70 to 84, and 23·5 per cent among aged 85 and older.

For women, the global forecast was projected to be 0·6 per cent, among those aged 40–69 years, 8·5 per cent among those aged 70–84, and 30·5 per cent among those aged 85 and older.

Findings from the study shows that population growth and an increase in people living longer will be primarily responsible for this trend.

It indicates that improvements in global education access are projected to reduce the number of dementia cases by 6.2 million come 2050.

However, this will be countered by anticipated trends in obesity, high blood sugar, and smoking, which are the major risk factors associated with dementia.

The study

The study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Gates Ventures.

The report states that dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death worldwide and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people globally, with global costs in 2019 estimated at more than £737.9 billion.

The study also predicts that dementia cases will rise in every country over the next three decades if actions are not taken urgently.

Numerous studies have shown that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia by being physically active, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol and controlling their weight.

Other ways to reduce such risks are maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

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