Neurological disorders account for a large and increasing health burden worldwide, as shown in the Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) Study 2016. Unpacking how this burden varies regionally and nationally is important to inform public health policy and prevention strategies. The population in the EU is older than that of the WHO European region (western, central, and eastern Europe) and even older than the global population, suggesting that it might be particularly vulnerable to an increasing burden of age-related neurological disorders. We aimed to compare the burden of neurological disorders in the EU between 1990 and 2017 with those of the WHO European region and worldwide.
The burden of neurological disorders was calculated for the year 2017 as incidence, prevalence, mortality, disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), years of life lost, and years lived with disability for the countries in the EU and the WHO European region, totally and, separately. Diseases analysed were Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, epilepsy, headache (migraine and tension-type headache), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, brain cancer, motor neuron diseases, neuroinfectious diseases, and stroke. Data are presented as totals and by sex, age, year, location and socio-demographic context, and shown as counts and rates.
In 2017, the total number of DALYs attributable to neurological disorders was 21·0 million (95% uncertainty interval 18·5–23·9) in the EU and 41·1 million (36·7–45·9) in the WHO European region, and the total number of deaths was 1·1 million (1·09–1·14) in the EU and 1·97 million (1·95–2·01) in the WHO European region. In the EU, neurological disorders ranked third after cardiovascular diseases and cancers representing 13·3% (10·3–17·1) of total DALYs and 19·5% (18·0–21·3) of total deaths. Stroke, dementias, and headache were the three commonest causes of DALYs in the EU. Stroke was also the leading cause of DALYs in the WHO European region. During the study period we found a substantial increase in the all-age burden of neurodegenerative diseases, despite a substantial decrease in the rates of stroke and infections. The burden of neurological disorders in Europe was higher in men than in women, peaked in individuals aged 80–84 years, and varied substantially with WHO European region and country. All-age DALYs, deaths, and prevalence of neurological disorders increased in all-age measures, but decreased when using age-standardised measures in all but three countries (Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). The decrease was mostly attributed to the reduction of premature mortality despite an overall increase in the number of DALYs.
Neurological disorders are the third most common cause of disability and premature death in the EU and their prevalence and burden will likely increase with the progressive ageing of the European population. Greater attention to neurological diseases must be paid by health authorities for prevention and care. The data presented here suggest different priorities for health service development and resource allocation in different countries.
Deuschl G, Beghi E, Fazekas F, Varga T, Christoforidi KA, Sipido E, Bassetti CL, Vos T, Feigin VL. The burden of neurological diseases in Europe: an analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet Public Health. October 2020. doi: doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(20)30190-0.