Research warns of rise in dementia cases

Up to 1.7 million people in the UK will have dementia in the UK by 2051, new research has claimed.

The research conducted by the London School of Economics and Institute of Psychiatry predicted that the number of dementia cases would increase by 154% as a result of Britain's ageing population.

Currently, more than 700,000 people in the UK suffer from some form of dementia, and it costs around £17 billion a year to look after them.

One in five people over the age of 80 and one in 20 over the age of 65 suffer from some form of dementia, with Alzheimer's disease being the most common form.

There is no cure and symptoms include memory loss, delusions and speech difficulties.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said that dementia was one of the most serious health issues in the UK, which would place an "intolerable strain" on the country's health and social care system unless there was more investment in dementia services, research, support and training.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said that the government had doubled the research being done on Alzheimer's disease and had also recently announced new investment in emergency respite care for carers of people with dementia.

However, last November, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence refused to recommend the use of three drugs - donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine - to treat patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. NICE ruled that the drugs should only be used to treat patients in the moderate stages of the disease.

Two drugs companies - Pfizer and Eisai - are currently seeking a judicial review of the decision.


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