More cases of Alzheimer's disease in China in 2010 than any other country worldwide

June 6, 2013, Lancet

The new estimates show that there were 9.19m people with dementia in China in 2010, compared to 3.68m in 1990, and 5.69m people with Alzheimer's disease in 2010, compared to 1.93m in 1990. China had more individuals living with Alzheimer's disease in 2010 than any other country in the world.

Previous studies appear to have considerably underestimated the true burden of dementia in , largely due to limited data availability. However, this study examined a much wider range of data sources than earlier studies, including many Chinese-language reports. The results suggest that global estimates of Alzheimer's disease might need to be revised upwards by at least 5 million cases, or almost 20%.

According to co-lead authors Dr Kit Yee Chan, Professors Harry Campbell and Igor Rudan, of the University of Edinburgh Medical School, "Of the many non-communicable diseases that need attention worldwide, dementia is predicted to have the greatest economic and social effect. The number of dementia and Alzheimer's cases in China might pose the single largest challenge to health and social care systems in terms of finding appropriate and affordable responses."

The results show that the prevalence of dementia (controlled for age) is higher for women than men, but doesn't differ significantly between urban and rural residents, with similar patterns observed for Alzheimer's disease. These findings have important because women in China have considerably longer life expectancy and constitute up to 75% of the population aged 85 years and older.

The problems presented by rising numbers of dementia cases may be exacerbated in China because of changing demographic structure and large-scale ; migrating from rural to urban regions are resulting in large numbers of elderly people in rural regions, especially women, living alone.

According to the authors, research and media attention in China have traditionally focused on diseases with higher case-fatality rates, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. There is a general lack of awareness of dementia, which has important consequences – people don't seek medical help for dementia as frequently as they should, and little training is given for recognition and management of dementia at all levels of the health service.

"A response purely from strained health services is unlikely to be sufficient, and wider societal action and innovative solutions will be needed," says co-lead author Professor Wei Wang, of Edith Cowan Medical University, Australia, and Capital Medical University, Beijing, China. "Adequate resources should be provided at the national, local, family, and individual levels to tackle this rapidly growing problem, and public awareness campaigns are needed to counteract common misconceptions about – including that it is not very common in the Chinese population, that it is a normal part of ageing, or that it is better not to know about it because nothing can be done about it."

Explore further: Study finds late-life depression associated with increased risk for dementia

More information:

Related Stories

Study finds late-life depression associated with increased risk for dementia

May 2, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Late-life depression is associated with an increased risk for all-cause dementia, Alzheimer's disease and, most predominantly, vascular dementia, according to the results of a new meta-analysis published ...

Study suggests reduced risk of dementia

April 19, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A new Swedish study published in the journal Neurology shows that the risk of developing dementia may have declined over the past 20 years, in direct contrast to what many previously assumed. The result ...

Alzheimer's disease research gains momentum

June 3, 2013
Research conducted by Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, an institute of the University of Tasmania, is shedding new light on the biology of Alzheimer's disease, in particular a protein in the brain that is indirectly responsible ...

Passive smoking increases risk of severe dementia, according to study in China

January 9, 2013
Passive smoking, also known as 'second-hand' smoke or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is known to cause serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. However, until ...

No link between anesthesia, dementia in elderly

May 1, 2013
Elderly patients who receive anesthesia are no more likely to develop long-term dementia or Alzheimer's disease than other seniors, according to new Mayo Clinic research. The study analyzed thousands of patients using the ...

Skin cancer may be linked to lower risk of Alzheimer's disease

May 15, 2013
People who have skin cancer may be less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, according to new research published in the May 15, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. ...

Recommended for you

Energy storehouses in the brain may be source of Alzheimer's, targets of new therapy

January 23, 2018
Alzheimer's disease, a severely debilitating and ultimately fatal brain disorder, affects millions worldwide. To date, clinical efforts to find a cure or adequate treatment have met with dispiriting failure.

Rocky start for Alzheimer's drug research in 2018

January 19, 2018
The year 2018, barely underway, has already dealt a series of disheartening blows to the quest for an Alzheimer's cure.

Alzheimer's disease: Neuronal loss very limited

January 17, 2018
Frequently encountered in the elderly, Alzheimer's is considered a neurodegenerative disease, which means that it is accompanied by a significant, progressive loss of neurons and their nerve endings, or synapses. A joint ...

Anxiety: An early indicator of Alzheimer's disease?

January 12, 2018
A new study suggests an association between elevated amyloid beta levels and the worsening of anxiety symptoms. The findings support the hypothesis that neuropsychiatric symptoms could represent the early manifestation of ...

One of the most promising drugs for Alzheimer's disease fails in clinical trials

January 11, 2018
To the roughly 400 clinical trials that have tested some experimental treatment for Alzheimer's disease and come up short, we can now add three more.

Different disease types associated with distinct amyloid-beta prion strains found in Alzheimer's patients

January 9, 2018
An international team of researchers has found different disease type associations with distinct amyloid-beta prion strains in the brains of dead Alzheimer's patients. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.