A public health priority for the World Health Organization, dementia affects almost 50 million people around the world and every year there are around 10 million new cases.
The World Health Organization has made an estimation that by 2030, the overall number of people with dementia is expected to reach 82 million; 152 million, even, by 2050. This increase is mostly due to the growth in the number of cases in low- and middle-income nations.
In general, dementia is characterised as a syndrome where cognitive function (the ability to perform thought operations) is impaired. This can affect all aspects of daily life, such as memory, reasoning, orientation and language. This is sometimes accompanied by disorders of emotional control or social behaviour.
This is not just an inevitable consequence of aging, even though age is the biggest known risk factor. The disease does not only affect the elderly. More and more people develop so-called “early” dementia, that is, the first symptoms before the age of 65. Figures show that 9% of all cases are now in this range.
Every four seconds, a person in the world is diagnosed with dementia. In Belgium, the number of people with dementia has exceeded 200,000 cases since 2020. But beyond the patients, the disease impacts many more people: family and loved ones are called upon to take care of the sick, who live in 70% of cases at home.
Older women currently have a 50% greater risk than men of developing dementia, and in particular Alzheimer’s disease. Certain increased risk factors explain this inequality in women after menopause, such as cardiovascular disease (including stroke). The recognition of the symptoms of cardiovascular events and their management are also less good in women.