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Japan's aging population and Alzheimer's

Read time: 1 mins
Last updated:1st Dec 2017
Published:29th Nov 2017
Source: Pharmawand

Aging populations present a unique socioeconomic challenge to many countries across the globe. They have the potential to push health systems to the brink of collapse as a result of unprecedented demand for services from a large and growing elderly population. Many health conditions disproportionally affect the elderly, being particularly true for Alzheimer’s with countries like Japan seeing a rapid growth in prevalence.

GlobalData, a data and analytics company, analysed the epidemiology of Alzheimer’s in the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK and Japan, showing that Japan will outpace the others in the growth of Alzheimer’s prevalence for those aged 60 and over. Prevalence is predicted to increase from 3.5 million cases in 2016 to 4.9 million in 2026. This 4% annual growth rate is partly due to a large number of people aged over 80 and a relatively high level of disease prevalence in elderly women.

Annual growth rate of total prevalent cases of Alzheimer's disease by country (%). Source, GlobalData Pharma Intelligence Center.

Kasey Fu (Healthcare Analyst at GlobalData) states that this rapid growth in prevalence is due to the large elderly population of Japan, comprising 20% of the total, increasing the burden of Alzheimer’s. This is highlighted by statistics showing that 7% of men aged 75‒79 and 16% of men aged over 90 have Alzheimer’s. This trend is even more dramatic in women; 7.3% of those aged 75‒79, and more than 59% of those aged 90 and older have the disease. Fu goes on to specify that another potential facilitator for the growth of Alzheimer’s is the increased prevalence of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and hypercholesterolaemia, which have been linked to increased Alzheimer’s risk.

All these factors exacerbate the already numerous social, economic and clinical challenges facing health systems and governments worldwide. Alzheimer’s, alongside a host of other age-related conditions, threatens health systems world-wide, emphasising the need to establish effective prevention and care strategies.

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