Alzheimer’s Research UK Reveals Statistics on Disease Incidence

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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According to a new analysis conducted by Alzheimer’s Research UK one in three people born in 2015 will develop Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) during their lifetime. The results suggest an alarming crisis in national health as the population in the United Kingdom ages, and highlights the demand for global efforts to develop new successful treatments for the condition.

AD causes the loss of brain cells and leads to an impairment in the brain’s capacity to properly function. The first symptoms of the disease include thinking and memory problems however upon disease progression physical aspects such as walking are also affected. At present, there are no drugs available that can slow or stop disease progression.

Age is the most important risk factor for dementia. As the population is aging and life expectancy is increasing, the analysis carried out by the Office of Health Economics examined the number of people born today that could be projected to develop the condition during their lifetime. Parameters such as estimates of life expectancy and incidence of dementia in men and women of different ages were all factors taken into account.

Results showed that one in three (32%) individuals (27% of all males and 37% of all females) born in the United Kingdom in 2015 are expected to develop the disease during their lifetime;

Findings from a previous investigation conducted by the team showed that a therapy able to delay the onset of dementia by five years would decrease the number of cases of dementia by a third. Alzheimer’s Research UK has recently launched many initiatives with the aim to help speed up the development of new treatments, including the creation of a Global Clinical Trials Fund and a network of Drug Discovery Institutes.

Amanda Franks, from Swindon, whose mum Cathy was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s six years ago, and a Champion of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “My mum was only 58 when she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Up until then we had no idea this devastating disease could affect someone so young. Simple day-to-day tasks like making a cup of tea, getting dressed and eating soon became a huge challenge for Mum. Dad cared for her at home with family help for five years by which time things were getting out of hand with her violent behaviour and hallucinations – life became extremely stressful. As a mum myself, I would dearly love to see preventions and new treatments found to defeat Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, giving hope to people now and future generations. These new statistics are terrifying but they will open everyone’s eyes to the enormity of the situation. Research can beat dementia and, with more investment, Alzheimer’s Research UK can drive the next breakthrough so urgently needed.”

Dr. Matthew Norton, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “These figures underline a stark reality: as people are living longer, more and more people will develop dementia in the future if action is not taken now to tackle the condition. It’s wonderful news that each generation is living longer than the last, but it’s important to ensure that people can enjoy these extra years in good health. Dementia is our greatest medical challenge and if we are to beat it, we must invest in research to find new treatments and preventions. If we could delay the onset of dementia by five years, we could reduce the number of people living with the condition by a third. Research has the power to transform lives, and our actions now will help determine the future for children born today. The hundreds of thousands of families affected by dementia now deserve to know that we are fighting for them.”