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Neurological Disorders Among the Top Contributors to Global Illness

March 14, 2024 from Medscape

Neurological disorders have emerged as a pressing global concern, significantly impacting individuals’ health and well-being. A recent comprehensive analysis, published in Lancet Neurology, highlights the concerning prevalence and impact of these conditions, emphasizing the need for coordinated efforts from healthcare providers and policymakers.


Recognizing the Impact

Based on the study, it has been found that neurological conditions, including stroke, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and other similar conditions, have emerged as the primary contributors to health decline and disability on a global scale. Neurological conditions were responsible for a staggering 443 million years of healthy life lost in 2021, surpassing cardiovascular diseases to become the primary cause of global disease burden. 


The measurement known as disability-adjusted life years (DALY) highlights the significant impact of neurological disorders on global health. In the same year, the report’s findings revealed that a significant number of individuals, accounting for 43% of the global population, suffered from a neurological illness. This number reached an astonishing 3.4 billion individuals. 


Dr. Jaimie Steinmetz, the lead author, emphasized the crucial need to address nervous system conditions, highlighting their alarming rise of 59% globally since 1990. Implementing efficient and culturally appropriate measures for prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and long-term care is crucial in addressing this growing public health issue. This was emphasized in a recent news release by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle.


The study revealed that stroke, neonatal encephalopathy, migraine, AD, diabetic neuropathy, and epilepsy are significant factors in causing neurologic health loss. It is worth mentioning that the neurological effects caused by COVID-19 have contributed greatly to the overall impact, with a staggering 23 million cases reported globally. Co-senior author Liane Ong highlighted the significant increase in conditions like diabetic neuropathy, which has seen a threefold rise since 1990, in line with the global prevalence of diabetes.


Prevention Strategies

The study highlights the significance of implementing preventive measures that focus on identified risk factors for neurological conditions. Addressing risk factors such as high blood pressure and lead exposure has the potential to significantly reduce the number of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) associated with stroke and intellectual disability. Co-lead author Katrin Seeher stressed the importance of comprehending modifiable risk factors, stating that “because many neurological conditions lack cures, and access to medical care is often limited, understanding modifiable risk factors and the potentially avoidable neurological condition burden is essential to help curb this global health crisis.”




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