Prevalence of dementia in a semi-urban population in Sri Lanka: report from a regional survey.
de Silva HA., Gunatilake SB., Smith AD.
BACKGROUND: The prevalence of dementia in Sri Lanka, which has a rapidly ageing population, is unknown. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to determine the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other dementias in a semi-urban elderly Sinhala-speaking population in Ragama, Sri Lanka. METHODS: The study was conducted in two phases. Phase I: After informed consent 703 subjects aged > or =65 years from the study area (population 15 828) were screened for cognitive impairment using the Sinhalese Mini Mental State Examination. Subjects scoring < or =17 were regarded as suspected dementia cases. Phase II: All subjects who screened positive in phase I were included in phase II for detailed evaluation for dementia according DSM IV and NINCDS-ADRDA criteria which included structured neuropsychiatric assessment, laboratory investigations, an axial CT scan of the brain and an informant interview. RESULTS: In the study sample, 61% were female and 86% were between 65-75 years. 42 subjects screened positive in phase I. Of these, 28 subjects were diagnosed as having dementia, giving an overall prevalence rate of 3.98% (95% Confidence Intervals (CI) =2.6-5.7%). Of these, 20 (71.4%) had probable AD, four had vascular dementia (14.3%), two had mixed (vascular and AD) dementia (7.1%), one had Lewy body dementia, and one had dementia due to syphilis. Greater age, illiteracy and female gender were associated with higher prevalence of dementia. CONCLUSION: Comparison with other community studies performed in North India suggests that dementia prevalence is higher in Sri Lanka. This may be due to regional differences in disease incidence.