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International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 195750, 15 pages
Review Article

Epidemiology of Dementia among the Elderly in Sub-Saharan Africa

1Department of Neurology and Psychiatry and Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, MO 63104, USA
2Department of Internal Medicine, Roger Williams Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, 825 Chalkstone Avenue, Providence, RI 02908, USA

Received 1 May 2014; Revised 2 July 2014; Accepted 2 July 2014; Published 6 August 2014

Academic Editor: Francesco Panza

Copyright © 2014 Olaniyi O. Olayinka and Nadine N. Mbuyi. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objectives. To review epidemiologic studies on the prevalence, incidence, and risk factors of dementia in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Methods. A MEDLINE search (from January 1992 to December 31, 2013) of epidemiologic studies, with no language restriction, was conducted using the keywords “dementia” or “Alzheimer’s” and “Africa.” We selected for review population and hospital-based studies that reported the prevalence, incidence, or risk factors of dementia in SSA in people aged 60 years and above. References of selected articles were reviewed to identify additional relevant articles that met our selection criteria. Results. Of a total of 522 articles, 41 were selected and reviewed. The reported prevalence of dementia in SSA varied widely (range: 2.29%–21.60%); Alzheimer’s disease was the most prevalent type of dementia. Only two studies conducted in Nigeria reported incidence data. Major risk factors identified include older age, female gender, cardiovascular disease, and illiteracy. Conclusion. Data on the epidemiology of dementia in SSA is limited. While earlier studies reported a lower prevalence of dementia in older persons, recent studies have put these findings into question suggesting that dementia prevalence rates in SSA in fact parallel data from Western countries.