Dementia cases 'to double by 2030' says World Health Organisation
A new case of dementia is diagnosed every four secondsLess than half of dementia cases are routinely recognised even in high-income countries

Claire Bates


12:01 GMT, 11 April 2012



12:10 GMT, 11 April 2012

Sir Terry Pratchett, is a well-known sufferer of Alzheimer's Disease and is campaigning for better treatment and care

Author Sir Terry Pratchett, is a well-known sufferer of Alzheimer's Disease and is campaigning for better treatment and care

The number of people suffering dementia around the globe is expected to nearly double to 65.7million sufferers by 2030, the World Health Organisation has warned.

By 2050 it is likely to rise 70 per cent above today's figure of 35.6million sufferers.

Dementia is caused by a variety of
brain illnesses that affect memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability
to perform everyday activities.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia and makes up about 70 percent of cases.

The report published with Alzheimer's
Disease International said there are 7.7million new cases of dementia
reported each year – with a new person diagnosed every four seconds.

The estimated annual cost of treatment and care is $604 billion (379 billion).

Yet even in high income countries like the UK and U.S less than half of dementia cases are routinely recognised.


The degenerative condition is the most common form of dementia and affects more than 300,000 people in the UK.

It is estimated that it affects on in 14 people over the age of 65. It can be inherited in some cases.

Author Terry Pratchett is a high profile person with the disease.

The condition is caused by parts of the brain wasting away, particularly in the cerebral cortex.

As the grey matter wastes away, clumps of protein, known as ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’, start to form in the brain. The plaques and tangles start to destroy even more brain cells.

Early symptoms include minor memory problems and saying the right words.

Later symptoms include severe confusion and dramatic changes of personality. A sufferer can also experience delusions.

There is no cure though there are some treatment that can slow the disease's progression.

The disease can shorten life-expectancy as sufferers can lose interest in eating and maintaining personal hygiene, leading to other illnesses.

'We need to increase our capacity to detect dementia early and to provide the necessary health and social care,' said Oleg Chestnov, from WHO.

'Much can be done to decrease the burden of dementia. Health-care workers are often not adequately trained to recognise dementia.'

The study also highlights a general lack
of information and understanding about the disease, fuelling stigma
with the result that people sometimes delay seeking support.

'It is now vital to tackle the poor levels of public awareness and
understanding, and to drastically reduce the stigma associated with
dementia,' said Marc Wortmann, executive director of Alzheimer's Disease

Only eight countries worldwide, including England, have national programmes in place to address dementia, according to the report 'Dementia: a public health priority'.

A spokesman for the leading UK charity Alzheimer's Society, said: 'Two weeks ago, for the first time a British Prime Minister made a
personal commitment to drive forward change to transform the lives of 800,000 people with dementia in the UK.

We must now focus our efforts on translating these commitments
into better diagnosis and support, increased understanding and advancements in research.'