Although the absolute number of people suffering from dementia as a result of the ageing of the population will continue to increase over the coming years, the increase could possibly be less explosive than previously predicted. Research by Erasmus MC has shown that the relative number of new cases per year per age category has decreased. The researchers will be publishing their findings on 8 May in the scientific journal Neurology.
Scientific researcher Elisabeth Schrijvers of the Epidemiology department of Erasmus MC compared two groups of participants in the ERGO (Erasmus Rotterdam Health study) study aged between 60 and 90. In the group that started with ERGO in 2000 dementia occurs less frequently in the age categories than in the group that started in 1990. Furthermore, MRI scans shows that the brain volume in the 2000 group is larger and that there is less vascular damage.
Schrijvers: “Another striking difference between the groups is that the 2000 group is generally unhealthier than the 1990 group in terms of risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and obesity.
At the same time, people in this group use much more risk reducing medication such as cholesterol-lowering drugs and anticoagulants. “A direct link between the increased drug use and lower incidence of dementia must however not be assumed due to the small sample size of the study. Schrijvers: “Further research will need to be carried out.”
ERGO, also known as The Rotterdam Study of Erasmus MC, is one of the largest epidemiological studies in the world. The study monitors 15,000 inhabitants of the Rotterdam district of Ommoord aged 45 years and older.