Half of Women, a Third of Men Will Develop Parkinson Disease, Dementia, or Stroke

New study findings show that the lifetime risk of common neurological diseases among men and, particularly, women is extremely high, and that the need for population-based prevention strategies remains a top priority.

Investigators set out to measure the burden and lifetime risk of dementia, stroke, and/or parkinsonism in older adults, as well as the potential for prevention, using data from 1990 to 2016 from the prospective population-based Rotterdam Study.

Among the 12,102 participants (57.7% women, 42.3% men), aged 45 or older and disease-free at the study outset, 1489 received a dementia diagnosis, 1285 sustained a stroke, and 263 developed parkinsonism in the 26-year follow-up period. Multiple diseases were diagnosed in 438 of these participants.

The results showed that 1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men will develop dementia, stroke, or Parkinson disease during their lifetime. Women were nearly twice as likely to develop both stroke and dementia during their lifetime.

“These findings strengthen the call for prioritising the focus on preventive interventions at population level which could substantially reduce the burden of common neurological diseases in the ageing population,” the investigators concluded, adding that preventive strategies that delay disease onset with 1 to 3 years might reduce the lifetime risk of developing dementia, stroke, or Parkinson disease by as much as 50%.

—Michael Gerchufsky


Licher S, Darweesh SKL, Wolters FJ, et al. Lifetime risk of common neurological diseases in the elderly population [published online October 2, 2018]. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jnnp-2018-318650.