We are becoming demented later in life than we used to!

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News round up from BMJ 22 Aug 20

We are getting demented later in life than we used to! Good news?

An analysis of seven population based cohort studies in the USA and Europe found that over the last 25 years the incidence of dementia has fallen by 13% per calendar decade. The reduction tended to be greater in men compared to women.

In a large longitudinal study, moderate alcohol consumption seemed to have a beneficial effect. The Health and Retirement Study followed 20,000 middle aged and older people for nine years. When compared to those who never drank alcohol, participants who drank low to moderate quantities had higher scores for mental status, word recall and vocabulary, and lower rates of decline in all of these domains.

Although aspirin has proven benefit in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, they have not been shown to reduce the incidence of dementia or cognitive decline.

20,000 older people were randomised to have either 100mg aspirin a day or placebo. Around 600 developed dementia over the five years of follow up. There was no difference between the treatment group and the placebo group however.

My comment: Although GPs and hospital doctors have been treating diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular risk factors very aggressively over the last few decades, it is rare to get conclusive feedback that we have actually been achieving useful end points such as this, so I was delighted to see this report.