Srinagar: The prevalence of dementia in J&K is higher compared to the rest of the country, claims a pan-India study on dementia.
As per the study ‘Deep phenotyping and genomic data from a nationally representative study on dementia in India’, the prevalence of dementia among elderly population in J&K is the highest in the country at 11 percent against the national average of 7. 4 percent.
In contrast, Delhi has shown the lowest prevalence at 4.5 percent with neighbouring Haryana having a prevalence of 5.8 percent.
Other states with worrying prevalence include Odisha at 9.9 percent and West Bengal at 9.2 percent.
Dementia was found to be almost double among women at 9 percent than men 5.8 percent.
Prevalence was also higher in rural areas at 8.4 percent than in urban areas 5.3 percent, underlining the urgent need to scale up diagnosis in rural health facilities.
Further, lower education was associated with a greater risk of dementia.
The estimated prevalence was 10 percent in those with no education at all compared to 4.5% among those who had primary level education and 1.5 among those who went to Class VIII and above.
Dementia is a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking, and social abilities severely enough to interfere with the person’s daily life.
Senior Geriatric Consultant and Gerontologist, Dr Zubair Saleem told Greater Kashmir that among more than 30,000 senior citizen patients seen over a period of 5 years, 10 to 11 percent had symptoms of mild cognitive impairment and mild dementia.
“In Kashmir, there is a significant number of senior citizens with dementia and many people have a family member or close friend with the disease,” he said.
Dr Saleem said that at Alzheimer’s and Dementia Clinic, of the 87 patients who came for the treatment, 25 were diagnosed with Minimal Cognitive Impairment (MCI) while one patient who had recently retired from government services was diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimer's disease.
A researcher at the University of Kashmir, Dr Kamran, who is also working on genetics risk factors for dementia in Kashmiri population, told Greater Kashmir that stress, dietary habits, sedentary lifestyle, loneliness, family history, socioeconomic status, and genetics are the main reasons for dementia in Kashmir.
He said that after family history and genetics, an individual cannot do anything solid, but dietary habits were easily modifiable where people need to shift from a high fatty diet to less fatty.
"With regard to the socioeconomic status, which includes both types, whether stress is because of loss of loved ones either by death of separation and economic stress. Both of them are manageable and even modifiable, by means of counseling, positive behavior and physical activity-like exercise cycling, and playing games," he said.
Dr Kamran said that the high carbohydrate, high trans fat, and high cholesterol (HFHC) diets in combination with declining levels of vitamin B12 and folate and trace minerals may play a role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease.
"Less fatty diet is protective against AD while a high fatty diet is a predisposing factor towards Alzheimer's disease," he said.