Dementia Prevalence in the U.S. May Be Declining (But Not Because of Any Alzheimer Rx)
Dr. Michael Fulks, Consulting Medical Director, highlights a report discussing how the prevalence of dementia has declined in the United States.
In some hopeful news, a report suggests dementia prevalence may actually be decreasing by 3% per year based on projections from data in the ongoing Health and Retirement Study (2000-2016). The authors correlate this improvement with increasing educational attainment in the general US population. It is postulated that more education increases cognitive reserve so that dementia does not become apparent until the degree of cognitive loss is greater.
However, educational attainment has also been shown elsewhere to be highly associated with lower levels of vascular risk factors (smoking, diet, exercise, etc.). In addition, other studies have shown that a substantial portion of dementia including those labeled as Alzheimer disease involves cerebrovascular damage (also see this prior blog).
With the disappointing results for drugs designed to prevent or treat Alzheimer disease, vascular risk factor measurement and treatment offers the current best hope of risk evaluation and remediation.
About the Author
Michael Fulks, MD, Consulting Medical Director, is board-certified in internal and insurance medicine. After leaving practice, he served as a medical director, creating or editing several underwriting manuals and preferred programs. More recently, Mike has consulted for CRL participating in its mortality research on laboratory test results, BP and build, and in the development of risk-scoring tools for laboratory and non-laboratory data.