Objective: To understand what number and proportion of dementia cases in Barbados are attributable to modifiable lifestyle factors and what effect a reduction in these risk factors would have on future dementia prevalence.
Methods: This was an observational study using Levin’s Attributable Risk formula, which assumes independence of risk factors, to calculate the population attributable risk (PAR) of dementia (all-cause) for six risk factors: midlife obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, low educational attainment, diabetes mellitus, and midlife hypertension in Barbados. A recently-published, modified formula was utilized to account for non-independence of risk factors using secondary data for Barbados. The number and proportion of dementia cases attributable to each risk factor and to all risk factors combined were computed, as was the effect that any reduction in these risk factors might have on future dementia prevalence.
Results: Accounting for the fact that risk factors do not operate independently, 50.9% (1 526 cases) were attributable to the combined effect of the six risk factors under study. According to the analysis, if each risk factor were reduced by 5% – 20% per decade, dementia prevalence could be 3.3% – 31.8% lower by 2050.
Conclusion: Using a largely theoretical model, the six modifiable lifestyle factors were estimated to be attributable to 50.9% of dementia cases in Barbados. Since the risk factors have much in common, any intervention that targets one of them could significantly reduce future dementia prevalence.