Report: 1 in 3 Worldwide Impacted by Neurological Conditions

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Over one in three people worldwide are affected by neurological conditions, which remain the leading cause of illness and disability across the globe.

Dementia is among the top-10 neurological conditions contributing to “loss of health” in 2021, along with stroke, neonatal encephalopathy, autism spectrum disorder, nervous system cancers and more, a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report found.

Reducing “high fasting plasma glucose levels” potentially “reduce the burden of dementia” by 14.6% but smoking “significantly contributed” to stroke, dementia and multiple sclerosis risk, the report said.

“This study should serve as an urgent call to action to scale up targeted interventions to allow the growing number of people living with neurological conditions to access the quality care, treatment and rehabilitation they need. It is more important than ever to ensure brain health is better understood, valued and protected, from early childhood to later life,” WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a news release.

A recent study published in The Lancet Neurology found that in 2021, over three billion people worldwide dealt with a neurological condition and premature death caused by neurological conditions has increased 18% since 1990.

More than three-quarters of those deaths happen in low- and middle-income countries. Since 1990, the number of people dying from and living with neurological conditions have increased while the overall premature death, known as disability adjusted life years (DALYs) have fallen.

“This means that increases in absolute numbers are mainly driven by demographic change and people living longer,” the report states.


Some key factors like maintaining blood pressure and household air quality against pollution could prevent up to 84% of disability adjusted life years, the report said. Also by preventing lead exposure, individuals could reduce “the burden of idiopathic intellectual disability” by over 63%.

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