Contribution of Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes and Vascular Risk Factors to the Burden of Dementia in Australia



"Background: Dementia accounts for 3.4% of the burden of disease in Australia. Dementia burden attributed to the risk factors included in the Australian Burden of Disease Study (ABDS) 2011 was not calculated as part of the study; however evidence suggests that there are vascular diseases and risk factors that cause dementia. Aim(s)/objective(s): To quantify the contribution of vascular diseases (stroke, atrial fibrillation and diabetes) and risk factors (physical inactivity, tobacco, mid-life blood pressure and mid-life obesity) to the burden of disease from dementia in 2011 and 2020. Method/approach: This study is an extension of the ABDS 2011. We used comparative risk assessment analysis to estimate the population attributable fractions of risk factors for dementia. Causally linked risk factors and corresponding effect sizes were sourced from epidemiological studies. Risk factor exposure was obtained from the Australian Health Survey 2011–12 and ABDS 2011 prevalence estimates. These were applied to estimates of dementia burden from the ABDS 2011 to determine the amount of dementia burden attributable. Scenario modelling was used to estimate attributable dementia burden in 2020. Results/findings: Analysis of all risk factors included in the study found they were responsible for around a quarter of the total burden of dementia in Australia. Individually, the risk factors that contributed the most to dementia burden were physical inactivity, stroke and mid-life high blood pressure. Discussion/Conclusions: This research demonstrates the potential for reducing and delaying dementia-related burden. The largest gains are likely to be made by targeting leading modifiable risk factors, some of which need to be targeted in mid-life. Keywords: Noncommunicable/chronic diseases, risk factors, Life course, Health-related behaviours, Physical activity, Obesity, Tobacco control, tobacco use Key Messages 1. This study quantifies the contribution of vascular diseases and risk factors to the burden of disease from dementia in Australia. 2. As an extension of the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 we used comparative risk assessment analysis to estimate the population attributable fractions of risk factors for dementia. 3. Individually, the risk factors that contributed the most to dementia burden were physical inactivity, stroke and mid-life high blood pressure. "


Vanessa Prescott