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Alzheimer's Soars, Global Focus Needed: Study
Date:9/21/2009

By 2050, 115 million people may suffer from dementia

MONDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The prevalence of Alzheimer's disease is accelerating at a rapid pace, and by next year 35.6 million people around the world will suffer from dementia -- a 10 percent increase since 2005, a new report predicts.

Incidence of dementia will almost double every 20 years, reaching 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050, according to the 2009 World Alzheimer Report from Alzheimer's Disease International.

"We are confronting an emergency -- we need to do something about this," said Alzheimer's Disease International Chair Dr. Daisy Acosta. Governments around the world must take notice and address the social, medical and economic issues related to dementia, she said.

"Life expectancy is increasing everywhere in the world, and that's why the number of people with dementia are increasing," she said.

According to the report, which analyzed data from 147 studies in 21 areas around the world, prevalence has increased fastest in low- and middle- income countries. Figures for Western Europe, South Asia and Latin America are higher than the 2005 estimates, while numbers have risen only slightly in North America.

In 2010, more than half (57.7 percent) of dementia cases will occur in low- and middle-income countries, and the proportion will jump to 70.5 percent by 2050, the report said.

The report highlights the challenges faced by governments and health-care systems worldwide to meet the needs of people living with Alzheimer's and dementia, and their families and caregivers.

The global cost is estimated at $315 billion annually. But the toll dementia takes on patients, caregivers and families is also staggering, Acosta said. "Suffering is something you cannot calculate in money," she said.

As demented individuals lose their ability to function and communicate with loved o
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