Neurological diseases are a huge burden on sufferers, their families, and societies and responsible for 12 in every 100 deaths, President of the 2013 World Congress of Neurologists Eduard Auff said at the event’s opening press conference in Vienna Monday.
“Between 4.5 and 11 percent of the total disease burden of humanity is due to neurological diseases,” said Auff, also Head of the Department of Neurology at the Medical University of Vienna.
Head of the Neurological Clinic at the Medical University of Innsbruck Werner Poewe said about 30 percent of all diseases were diseases of the brain. He said in 2010, 35.6 million people worldwide suffered from dementia, which is expected to rise to 100 million people by 2030.
The number of sufferers of other neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease are also expected to rise considerably over the same time frame.
Poewe said a problem with neurological diseases is that the diagnoses are often made too late, often not before the onset of symptoms. By this time the disease can already be at an advanced stage, making an early intervention to delay onset and progression difficult.
He said a project to use ultrasound brain scans on the three million people in Austria aged over 50 could result in some 750,000 showing suspect signs of disease and make earlier interventions more effective.
The Congress brings together around 8,000 medical professionals from 127 countries, and will run until Thursday.