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BMC Neurol. 2009 Oct 19;9:55. doi: 10.1186/1471-2377-9-55.

Prevalence of dementia and major dementia subtypes in Spanish populations: a reanalysis of dementia prevalence surveys, 1990-2008.

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National Centre for Epidemiology, CIBERNED and Alzheimer' Disease Research Unit, Carlos III Institute of Public Health, Madrid, Spain.



This study describes the prevalence of dementia and major dementia subtypes in Spanish elderly.


We identified screening surveys, both published and unpublished, in Spanish populations, which fulfilled specific quality criteria and targeted prevalence of dementia in populations aged 70 years and above. Surveys covering 13 geographically different populations were selected (prevalence period: 1990-2008). Authors of original surveys provided methodological details of their studies through a systematic questionnaire and also raw age-specific data. Prevalence data were compared using direct adjustment and logistic regression.


The reanalyzed study population (aged 70 year and above) was composed of Central and North-Eastern Spanish sub-populations obtained from 9 surveys and totaled 12,232 persons and 1,194 cases of dementia (707 of Alzheimer's disease, 238 of vascular dementia). Results showed high variation in age- and sex-specific prevalence across studies. The reanalyzed prevalence of dementia was significantly higher in women; increased with age, particularly for Alzheimer's disease; and displayed a significant geographical variation among men. Prevalence was lowest in surveys reporting participation below 85%, studies referred to urban-mixed populations and populations diagnosed by psychiatrists.


Prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer's disease in Central and North-Eastern Spain is higher in females, increases with age, and displays considerable geographic variation that may be method-related. People suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease in Spain may approach 600,000 and 400,000 respectively. However, existing studies may not be completely appropriate to infer prevalence of dementia and its subtypes in Spain until surveys in Southern Spain are conducted.

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