Epidemiology of dementias and Alzheimer's disease

Arch Med Res. 2012 Nov;43(8):600-8. doi: 10.1016/j.arcmed.2012.11.003. Epub 2012 Nov 15.


Background and aims: Global population aging has been one of the defining processes of the twentieth century, with profound economic, political and social consequences. It is driving the current epidemic of dementia, both in terms of its extent and global distribution. The aim of the study was to summarize recent findings relevant to the epidemiological knowledge of dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Methods: A narrative mini-review of the literature relevant to the epidemiology of dementia and AD is presented, summarizing important findings and analyzing their implications.

Results: It was estimated that in 2010 there were 36.5 million people living with dementia, with 7.7 million new cases yearly and a new case of dementia every 4 sec. The number of persons living with dementia will nearly double every 20 years. Most of these persons will be living in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).

Conclusions: There are a substantial number of people with dementia worldwide and these numbers will continue to increase mainly in LMIC, producing a wide range of impacts. It is important to make dementia a national public health and social care priority worldwide. Recent reviews and meta-analyses have failed to clearly identify a singular causal or preventive pathway for AD that seems to be a multicausal, heterogeneous and age-related condition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Alzheimer Disease / economics
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / epidemiology
  • Cognitive Reserve
  • Dementia / classification
  • Dementia / complications
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Health Policy / trends
  • Humans
  • Life Style