We investigated the trends in dementia over the past 29 years in the town of Hisayama, Japan using 1266 autopsy specimens. The Hisayama study is a prospective cohort study of lifestyle-related diseases that was started in 1961. Clinical examination of dementia was started in 1985 with five detailed cross-sectional assessments conducted in 1985, 1992, 1998, 2005 and 2012. To examine the trends in dementia, we divided the 1266 autopsy samples into five groups according to the year of death: I (1986–1991, 257 cases), II (1992–1997, 268 cases), III (1998–2004, 318 cases), IV (2005–2011, 296 cases) and V (2012–2014, 127 cases). The prevalence of all-cause dementia significantly increased over time (28.4% in group I, 22.4% in group II, 32.1% in group III, 30.1% in group IV, 51.2% in group V; P for trend <0.001). A similar trend was observed for Alzheimer's disease (AD) (15.2%, 11.9%, 17.3%, 20.6% and 33.1%, respectively; P for trend <0.001). A significant increasing trend was observed in both men and women. A rapid increase in senile dementia of the NFT type (SD-NFT) in recent years was notable. Vascular dementia was the most common type of dementia in men prior to 2004; however, its prevalence decreased over time. Our study revealed that tauopathies, including AD and SD-NFT, significantly increased in the aged Japanese population over the course of this study. The neuritic plaque pathology of AD was associated with metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance and abnormal lipid metabolism, whereas the risk factors for tau pathology remain unclear. Although aging is considered one of the important risk factors accelerating tau pathology, there could be other risk factors associated with lifestyle diseases.
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