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Dementia in Portugal set to double in next 50 years

Photo by Robina Weermeijer at Unsplash

Researchers from the Dementia Research, Diagnosis, Training and Monitoring Centre (CIDIFAD) of the Misericórdia de Riba D'Ave, a charitable foundation in Famalicão, in northern Portugal, estimate that dementia cases in the country could double in the next 50 years, to around 450,000 people.

In a statement, the Santa Casa da Misericórdia Research Centre said on Thursday that the research, which was published in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, concludes that dementia in Portugal "could double and reach 450,000 cases by 2080, representing almost 5% of the Portuguese population."

To arrive at this result, the researchers used dementia prevalence rates, by age and gender, based on two diagnostic criteria found in other national studies.

"These rates were applied to projections of the Portuguese population up to 2080, for different population growth scenarios," the centre explains, adding that the data points to "a significant weight in older age groups."

According to the data, three out of four people with dementia in 2080 will be aged 80 or over. The study also points out that the disease will continue to be more frequent in women.

Quoted in the news release, the lead researcher, Sara Alves, emphasises that this is "a pioneering study of trends in the prevalence of dementia in Portugal, which estimates the impact that this group of diseases could have on the country by 2080".

In the coming decades, the number of people with dementia "is expected to escalate, mainly due to the marked ageing of the population.

"Age is one of the main factors associated with the onset of this type of disease, which includes, for example, Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia," reads the release.

The study saw the collaboration of researcher Natália Duarte, from CIDIFAD, and also Bárbara Gomes, from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra.

In view of the results of the study, the researchers argue that it is not only "urgent to implement national and regional health plans for dementias" but also to implement measures for early diagnosis.

"There is a lot to be done in terms of preventing modifiable risk factors (sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, hypertension), increasing diagnostic capacity, creating specialised services in the community, including long-term care and palliative care, training professionals and carers to respond to the challenges of the disease, increasing awareness campaigns, and greater investment in research in this area," adds Alves in the release.

The research was supported by the Norte 2020 programme, which supports the Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Riba D'Ave, in Vila Nova de Famalicão, in the district of Braga.



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