There are 47.5 million people with dementia in the world and between 60 and 70 percent of the cases are attributed to Alzheimer’s disease, according to the WHO. Additionally, over half of them live in low and middle income countries (LMIC) and based on the 2015 World Alzheimer’s Report, by 2050 68 percent of people with Alzheimer’s will be in these regions. The main issue is that dementia is an expensive illness. In 2015 world expenditure was of US$818 billion and by 2018 it will be a trillion-dollar disease, says the report.
In Mexico there are about 800,000 people with dementia according to the 2012 National Health and Nutrition Survey and the Dementia Research Group. IMSS considers it a national public health problem and there are several reasons to believe so.
First, dementia and Alzheimer’s usually appear in people 65 to 80 years old, and with life expectancy rising in Mexico, this disease requires more attention. In fact, as published in the 2010 census, there are more than 10 million people in the country in that age group.
Also, according to the American Alzheimer’s Association there is a relationship between Alzheimer’s and diabetes, Mexico’s main chronic disease, especially with type 2 or hyperglycemia. There is not a confirmed explanation on how it might be directly related to diabetes, but irregular sugar levels in blood vessels caused by hyperglycemia and insulin resistance raise the risk of cardiac diseases as well as possibilities of brain damage. Also, some chemical substances in the brain may lose their balance or harm brain cells due to excess insulin.
Finally, a recent study suggested pollution might cause Alzheimer’s. Researchers from British universities like Manchester and Oxford, as well as the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), analyzed brain tissue of 37 people from Mexico City and Manchester and found particles of magnetite. Magnetite is a potentially toxic product in traffic pollution, it reaches the brain through the respiratory tract. The particles do not have an immediate effect but the study assures they might cause Alzheimer’s if sniffed over a long period, as it increases molecular damage to brain cells, especially if in the presence of an amyloid beta protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
To offer better life quality to the growing population with Alzheimer’s, the National Geriatric Institute designed an educational program on Alzheimer’s and other dementia to licensed health professionals who work with elderly people, so they can manage these diseases appropriately. Also, to provide a better service for them and their families, Alzheimer’s Mexico is promoting an initiative with Global Giving to provide day care centers and training to families and caregivers of the patients.
The Mexican Health Secretary recommends certain habits to prevent Alzheimer’s risk: exercise at least 150 minutes a week, follow a healthy diet, low in fats and high in fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals. IMSS also recommend, consuming omega 3, which is common in tuna and salmon and doing mental exercises such as reading and playing chess.
World Health Organization
World Alzheimer’s report