Initial release of Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study in Lancet

13 December 2012 - The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study measures the population impact of diseases and health conditions on mortality and disability. It has created an international standard lens through which to view population health, and it is arguably the most comprehensive and systematic study of its type.

The Lancet today released an issue devoted to the first reporting on results of the 2010 study, with comparisons in many of the articles to what was found in 1990. In general, the changes found in rates and effects of conditions is driven by population ageing and population growth, but clearly many increases are dominated by the dramatic rise in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases in persons over the age of 40.

Mortality: Specific to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, the GBD found that deaths from dementia in 2010 rose three fold over 1990 Looking at age standardized rates of mortality, Alzheimer’s had a 95.4% increase in rates of death per 100,000 population over that same period of time.

Disability: Among 291 causes of DALY’s (Disability Adjusted Life Years) per 100,000 persons , Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia in 2010 now ranks 49th globally. When viewed regionally, disability from Alzheimer’s and other dementia ranks 19th in the High Income Western Pacific region, 11th in Western Europe, 13th in Australasia, 12th in the High income North American Region, 24th in Central Europe and 26th in Southern Latin America. This is all within the overall population of all ages.

Marc Wortmann, Executive Director of Alzheimer’s Disease International: “It is clear from the data of this study that chronic diseases as well as ageing deserve more attention within the global health community. If you see the increased rates of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias together with our projections for the next decades, it becomes clear that this will be one of the major health challenges of the 21st century.”

Professor Martin Prince, who is leading the 10/66 Dementia Research Group says: “The latest update of the Global Burden of Disease estimates reveals the impact of global population ageing on the dominant illness profiles in different world regions, and their impact on disability and mortality. Dementia affects, predominately older people, and hence the impact of dementia, as a proportion of total disease burden is increasing inexorably. Research from the 10/66 Dementia Research Group (Sousa et al, Lancet, 1999) indicates that, among older people, dementia is already the leading contributor to disability and needs for care in low and middle income regions.”

These findings reinforce the call to action in the WHO report from earlier this year Dementia: a public health priority that called for increasing the number of national government plans for dementia and greater global cooperation on the threat.

ADI supports additional analysis of the GBD data, especially looking at the impact of cognitive impairment on morbidity and mortality of persons with multiple chronic conditions.

Considering that risk factors for dementia such as poor heart health and diabetes are also “top ten” in mortality and disability measures in the Global Burden of Disease, ADI calls for more attention to brain health issues in country and global NCD planning, with a special emphasis on a multi-sectoral effort on surveillance of dementia risk factors to be included in the WHO 2013-2020 Action plan on NCD’s now being drafted.