David S. Jones & Jeremy A. Greene. New England Journal of Medicine 2016; 374:507-509
In 2005, researchers from the Duke Center for Demographic Studies reported a “surprising trend”: data from the National Long-Term Care Surveys showed that the prevalence of severe cognitive impairment in the Medicare population had decreased significantly between 1982 and 1999.1 At a time when baby-boomer demographics led to predictions of a looming dementia crisis, this finding offered hope.
Since that time, other reports have similarly shown that the incidence or prevalence of dementia is decreasing in various populations. Researchers have offered many possible explanations, including increased wealth, better education, control of vascular risk factors, and use of statins, antihypertensive agents, and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs.1,2 However, even as researchers describe their “cautious optimism” about specific populations, they still project a quadrupling of global prevalence over the coming decades.3
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