April 15, 2024

Neurological conditions ranging from migraines to stroke, Parkinson’s disease and dementia are now the leading cause of ill health worldwide, causing 11.1 million deaths in 2021, research has revealed.

The number of people living with or dying from disorders of the nervous system has increased dramatically over the past three decades, with 43% of the world’s population – 3.4 billion people – affected in 2021, according to a study published in the Lancet.

The analysis in the Global Burden of Disease, Injury and Risk Factors Study suggested that the total amount of disability, disease and premature death caused by 37 neurological conditions increased by just over 18% from approximately 375 million years of healthy life lost in 1990 to 443 million years in 2021.

Researchers said the rise is due to global population growth and higher life expectancy, as well as increased exposure to environmental, metabolic and lifestyle risk factors such as pollution, obesity and diet, respectively.

In the UK, figures from Brain Research UK show one in six people have some form of neurological condition, with 2.6 million people living with the effects of traumatic brain injury or stroke.

There are more than 944,000 people in the UK who have dementia, with numbers expected to rise to more than a million by 2030.

Globally, stroke was the condition with the greatest disease burden. The other leading contributors include meningitis, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, brain injuries in newborn babies, neurological complications in babies born before 37 weeks of gestation, nerve damage caused by diabetes, autism and cancers of the nervous system.

The most common neurological disorders in 2021 were tension-type headaches, with approximately 2 billion cases, and migraines, with approximately 1.1 billion cases.

The fastest growing condition surveyed was nerve damage caused by diabetes, which was ranked as the fifth highest disease burden worldwide, reflecting the sharp rise in type 2 diabetes over the same period.

For the first time, the study examined neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, and neurological disorders in children, and found that they were responsible for 80 million years of healthy life lost worldwide in 2021 – around a fifth of the total.

The researchers highlighted global health inequalities, with 80% of neurological deaths and health loss occurring in low- and middle-income countries. In the worst regions of sub-Saharan West and Central Africa, the death rate and years lost to ill health, disability or early death were five times higher than the world average.

The study emphasized the importance of preventive measures to reduce the risk of developing some neurological conditions, especially the reduction of high systolic blood pressure, which measures arterial pressure when the heart beats. These measures could prevent 84% of illness, disability and premature death from stroke, it found.

The lead author, Dr Jaimie Steinmetz, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said: “As the world’s leading cause of overall disease burden, and with case numbers rising 59% globally since 1990, nervous system conditions must be addressed through effective, culturally acceptable and affordable prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and long-term care strategies .”

Dr Leah Mursaleen, the head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “These figures are truly alarming and underline the need for urgent action. Without it, dementia will continue to devastate millions of lives around the world. Here in the UK, this means that the NHS is under even greater pressure.”

Juliet Bouverie, the chief executive at the Stroke Association, said: “It is extremely worrying to read that neurological conditions such as stroke are now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. In the UK alone there are over 100,000 strokes each year and 1.3 million stroke survivors and these numbers are only going to grow.

“Although stroke has a devastating effect on many people and their family and friends, it also has a huge societal impact financially. By next year, the average cost of stroke to the NHS will rise to £43 billion and this could increase to £75 billion by 2035. Then there’s the loss of productivity – with one in four strokes happening to people of working age, without support to get stroke survivors back into work, the UK is looking at a cost of £1.3 billion a year to lost productivity.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *