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Nat Rev Neurol. 2017 Jun;13(6):327-339. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2017.63. Epub 2017 May 12.

The changing prevalence and incidence of dementia over time - current evidence.

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REACH: The Centre for Research in Ageing and Cognitive Health, Department of Psychology, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Washington Singer Building, Perry Road, Exeter EX4 4QG, UK.
Boston University School of Public Health, 72 East Concord St, B602 Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.
German Center for Neurodegenerative diseases (DZNE), Population Health Sciences, Sigmund-Freud-Straße 27, 53127 Bonn, Germany.
Aging Research Center, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet-Stockholm University, Gävlegatan 16, S-113 30, Stockholm, Sweden.
INSERM, ISPED, Centre INSERM, U1219 - Bordeaux Population Health Research Center, Bordeaux, France.
Department of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine, 410 West 10th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA.
Department of Neuropathology, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, 3-1-1, Maidashi, Higashi-ku, 812-8582, Fukuoka, Japan.
Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Wytemaweg 80, 3015 CN Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Department of Internal Medicine, Veterans Affairs Center for Clinical Management Research, Institute for Social Research, and Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, University of Michigan, 2800 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2800, USA.
Department of Psychiatry, Universidad de Zaragoza and Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Aragón, Zaragoza. CIBERSAM, Madrid, Spain.
Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, The Baddiley-Clark Building, Richardson Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE4 5PL, UK.
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, 3-1-1, Maidashi, Higashi-ku, 812-8582, Fukuoka, Japan.
Boston University School of Medicine, The Framingham Study, 72 East Concord Street, B602 Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.
Centre for Ageing and Health AgeCap, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Box 100, S-405 30, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Cambridge Institute of Public Health, Forvie Site, University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge CB2 0SR, UK.


Dementia is an increasing focus for policymakers, civil organizations and multidisciplinary researchers. The most recent descriptive epidemiological research into dementia is enabling investigation into how the prevalence and incidence are changing over time. To establish clear trends, such comparisons need to be founded on population-based studies that use similar diagnostic and research methods consistently over time. This narrative Review synthesizes the findings from 14 studies that investigated trends in dementia prevalence (nine studies) and incidence (five studies) from Sweden, Spain, the UK, the Netherlands, France, the USA, Japan and Nigeria. Besides the Japanese study, these studies indicate stable or declining prevalence and incidence of dementia, and some provide evidence of sex-specific changes. No single risk or protective factor has been identified that fully explains the observed trends, but major societal changes and improvements in living conditions, education and healthcare might have favourably influenced physical, mental and cognitive health throughout an individual's life course, and could be responsible for a reduced risk of dementia in later life. Analytical epidemiological approaches combined with translational neuroscientific research could provide a unique opportunity to explore the neuropathology that underlies changing occurrence of dementia in the general population.

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