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Saturday, March 3, 2007

Rise of the Alzheimer's Disease cases foreseen in India too, by Mr Sailesh Mishra.

Experts foresee alarming rise in Alzheimer’s disease cases

Developing countries like India, China will be among the countries worst hit by Alzheimer’s disease in the next decade, according to global experts.

“It is estimated that there are currently about 18 million people worldwide with Alzheimer’s disease,” according to the World Health Organisation. “This figure is projected to nearly double by 2025 to 34 million. Much of this increase will be in the developing countries, and will be due to the ageing population. Currently, more than 50 per cent of people with Alzheimer’s disease live in developing countries and, by 2025, this will be over 70 per cent.”

“Over the years, India has been patting itself on the back as the percentage of Alzheimer’s/ dementia patients has been 4 per cent as compared to, for instance, 10-15 of those in the 65+ plus age group in the United States,” says Dr Sheilu Sreenivasan, President, Dignity Foundation, a 10-year charitable organisation with 20 different social support deliveries for senior citizens and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

In the year 2000, India had 3.5 million Alzheimer’s/ dementia patients as against the United States’ 4.5 million. With our population greying faster (India’s 60-plus population was around 80 million in 2000), the growth rate being fastest among the 80+ segment among all other segments, the number of Alzheimer’s/ dementia patients has been growing at a phenomenal rate.

The percentage of 60+ persons in the total population has seen a steady rise from 5.1 percent in 1901 to 6.8 per cent in 1991. It is expected to reach 8.9 per cent in 2016. Projections beyond 2016, made by the United Nations, have indicated that 21 per cent of the Indian population will be 60+ by 2050. In China, the population of 60+ is projected to increase from 130 million in 2000 to 370 million in 2050. According to Alzheimer's Australia,the projected increase of dementia between 1995-2041in Australia is 254% percentage.

The Rotterdam Study, 1995 (the US), indicates the dramatic rise in the Alzheimer's disease prevalence as age advances:-- Prevalence of dementia in each age category
Age No (%) of No (%) of
(years) women men Total
55-59 4/688 (0.6) 1/493 (0.2) 5/1181 (0.4)
60-64 3/807 (0.4) 3/625 (0.5) 6/1432 (0.4)
65-69 7/735 (1.0) 5/624 (0.8) 12/1359 (0.9)
70-74 15/712 (2.1) 10/492 (2.0) 25/1204 (2.1)
75-79 37/597 (6.2) 22/365 (6.0) 59/962 (6.1)
80-84 92/477 (19.3) 28/204 (13.7) 120/681 (17.6)
85-89 118/361 (32.7) 29/102 (28.4) 147/463 (31.7)
>/=90 86/212 (40.6) 14/34 (41.2) 100/246 (40.7)
Total 362/4589 (7.9) 112/2939 (3.8) 474/7528 (6.3)

Barring social scientists and medical experts dealing with dementia, few in India seem to be aware of the grave situation. Five years have passed, but no governmental effort has been made to update data on the number of Alzheimer’s/ dementia cases in the country though the threat has been widening.

Research indicates that people with heart ailments and diabetes are prone to Alzheimer’s disease. “Some of the strongest evidence links brain health to heart health,” says US-based Alzheimer's Association. “The risk of developing Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia appears to be increased by many conditions that damage the heart and blood vessels, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure or cholesterol.’’

India today has over 33 million diabetics, according to the International Diabetes Federation. By 2025, India will become the "diabetes capital of the world" with over 57 million diabetics. As for heart patients, the number is expected to increase from the present 30 million to 100 million by 2020.

Despite the mounting risk, few people are aware of the disease and its symptoms. So much so that experts feel that innumerable Alzheimer’s patients are mistaken as victims of senility and offered little medical help. In some cases, medical help is sought too late.

The need of the hour is to spread awareness about the disease. “Though the situation has been deteriorating, the Indian Government and people seem to be rather indifferent,’’ says a Mumbai-based leading neurosurgeon.

What are the symptoms? Do any foodstuffs prevent it? Consider these facts :

In India, prevalence of dementia is 33.6 per 1000
Alzheimer's disease was the most common type (54 per cent), followed by vascular dementia (39 per cent)
Alzheimer’s disease is incurable

Turmeric prevents Alzheimer’s disease. Fish too helps (new research, one of the reasons why India’s dementia incidence is lower))

B-vitamin nutrients found in oranges, legumes, leafy green vegetables and folic acid supplements are more effective in limiting Alzheimer's disease risk than antioxidants and other nutrients

Reasons for dementia: 7 per cent of cases are due to causes such as infection, tumour and trauma. Family history of dementia is also a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. History of hypertension is a risk factor for vascular dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease symptoms may include memory loss, personality changes, trouble finding words and feeling lost in familiar places

Sniff test: Patients with early Alzheimer's disease may be unable to smell certain odours including strawberry, smoke, soap and cloves

Physical exercise helps: Walk, run, dance, swim, pump iron

Mental exercise too: Learn a new language, play bridge or chess, do crossword puzzles and read.

Best Regards,
Sailesh Mishra, Chief Coordinator


Anonymous said...
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suman said...

Dear Mr Sailesh
Please let me know the reference for the prevalence of alzheimers in India.


Silver Innings said...

Dear Suman,
Thks for query.

Its sad to state there is no Pan India Study on prevalence of Dementia/ Alzheimer's in India.

There are few study like :


By Dr.S.Saji for Urban Kerala:

By ADI ,Uk:

By Dr.Viajy Chandra at Vallabhgad,near Delhi in rural India :

By Dr.VAZ and Dr.Charles Pinto in Bandra, Mumbai:;jsessionid=5270F779AD4B778192AD1E91A9AFAB6C.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=273404

10/66 Research in India:

Anonymous said...

Alzheimer's is not alien to India and will be biggest health burden in near future. we are working in NIH funded facility at IMS,BHU, VNS on neurodegenrative diseases.
We hold multicentric facilities and we receive patients from all over India. we'd invite important data, statistics, local info, as well as patients across country as we focus on a traditional treatment system.can mail at:
congrats on a forum like this, the social awareness is vital.
Dr Shailesh G.

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