Demencija Europoje 2009

Numbers of people with dementia in Europe higher than previously reported

Embargoed for release until Monday, 13 July, 8.30 a.m. (Vienna)


Vienna, 13 July 2009 - According to research reported today at the Alzheimer's Association 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (ICAD 2009) in Vienna, the number of people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia in Europe may be higher than previously reported since both the number of new cases and the total number of people affected continue to rise among the very oldest segments of the population.

The goal of the EuroCoDe (European Collaboration on Dementia) project, financed by the European Commission and coordinated by Alzheimer Europe, was to determine the prevalence of dementia in Europe based on up-to-date research findings. Dr Emma Reynish, a consultant geriatrician from the Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, United Kingdom and her EuroCoDe colleagues conducted an extensive literature search using Cochrane review methodologies and compiled a database of all European epidemiological studies in the field up to the present date. 194 articles were identified by the review and 26 studies met inclusion criteria to participate with raw data in the collaborative analysis.

According to Dr Emma Reynish, while dementia prevalence rates for all men and for women up to age 85 largely confirmed previous findings, age-specific prevalence rates were higher than previously documented in the female "oldest old" age groups, rising to over 50% in those over 95 years.

"Our key findings confirmed that age remains as the single most important risk factor for dementia," Reynish said. "Nevertheless, due to the lack of data in the oldest old in previous prevalence studies, the prevalence of dementia of women over the age of 85 had been underreported."

Jean Georges, Executive Director of Alzheimer Europe welcomed the findings: "These results are important for two reasons. Firstly, they confirm what we already knew about the prevalence of dementia in Europe for people up to the age of 85. At the same time, the reported prevalence in the oldest old shows that we have previously underreported the total number of people with dementia in Europe. In the European Union alone, we now estimate the total number of people with dementia to be 7.3 million, rather than 6.5 million. This poses important challenges for all European health care systems, since the oldest old is one of the fastest growing sectors of our European societies.