Last week results of Lecanemab in Early Alzheimer’s disease were published showing greater reductions in brain amyloid burden than with placebo which resulted in moderately less decline on measures of cognition and function. The first small success in the field after decades and many failed attempts.
Dementia is an umbrella term covering symptoms affecting memory, movement, and thinking ability. It impacts the way a person speaks, thinks, feels, and behaves. Based on symptoms or causative factors, dementia can be subdivided into several types. The most common is Alzheimer’s Disease, named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer who discovered changes in brain tissue of a woman who died in 1906 from an unusual mental illness with symptoms of memory loss, language difficulties, and erratic behaviour. Upon inspection of brain tissue from deceased patients, plaques and nerve fibre tangles were found in the brain, which are considered to be significant causes of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Other types of dementia are Lewy-body Dementia, Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Vascular Dementia, and Frontotemporal Dementia. Each of these types have different clinical effects on the brain, though they can result in very similar symptoms.
It is estimated that 944,000 people in the UK are affected by dementia, which is projected to increase to 1 million in 2030 and 1.6 million in 2050. Over half the population of the UK general public knows someone who is living with dementia, and 1 in 3 people born in the UK are likely to develop dementia. However recent statistics from NHS Digital indicate that less than 2 in 3 people will be formally diagnosed with Dementia in general, let alone a specific type.
People living with dementia will often need some amount of care, ranging from between a few hours to assist with basic tasks, to full-time care for people who lose the ability to look after themselves. As Dementia progressively worsens patients become increasingly dependent on carers for ever more basic everyday tasks such as washing, dressing and going to the toilet. Much of this basic care is provided informally by family and friends. It was estimated in 2019 that there were 700,000 informal carers in the UK. With nearly 1 in 3 carers are over the age of 80 themselves, providing 23 million hours of unpaid care each week in 2019.
Such caring for a person with dementia on a routine basis takes a great mental and physical toll on the carers own health and productivity. It is common for carers to give up work to help look after their family or friends which itself carries a cost. It has been estimated that in 2021 the economic burden of dementia in the UK was £25 billion. This has been predicted to rise to £47 billion by 2050.
Detailed evaluation of the unpaid care provided has not been conducted to any great depth in economic evaluations of Dementia and real-world evidence regarding the wider societal impact of dementia is of poor quality.
HCD Economics is keen to develop Burden of Illness studies and expand preference research into Dementia. If you have shared interests and would like to arrange an informal discussion, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org