The same risk factors that contribute to making heart disease the leading cause of death worldwide also impact the rising global prevalence of brain disease, including stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, according to the American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics -; 2022 Update, published today in the Association’s flagship, peer-reviewed journal Circulation.
Experts say maintaining a healthy weight, managing your blood pressure and following other heart-healthy lifestyle behaviors can also support good brain health.
Optimal brain health includes the functional ability to perform all the diverse tasks for which the brain is responsible, including movement, perception, learning and memory, communication, problem solving, judgment, decision making and emotion. Cognitive decline and dementia are often seen following stroke and cerebrovascular disease and indicate a decline in brain health. Conversely, studies show maintaining good vascular health is associated with healthy aging and retained cognitive function.
The global death rate from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is increasing considerably – even more than the rate of heart disease death:
- Globally, more than 54 million people had Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in 2020, that’s a 37% increase since 2010 and a 144% increase over the past 30 years (1990-2020).
- More than 1.89 million deaths were attributed to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias worldwide in 2020, compared to nearly 9 million deaths from heart disease.
- Global deaths from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias increased more than 44% from 2010 to 2020, compared to a 21% increase in deaths from heart disease.
- Deaths from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias increased 184% over the past 30 years (1990-2020), compared to a 66% increase in heart disease deaths during that same time.
Because prevalence and mortality data are tracked differently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the