The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that from 2000-2004 death rates declined for most major illnesses. Heart disease was down by 8%, breast cancer down by 2.6%, prostate cancer -6.3%, stroke -10.4%.Over the same time period, Alzheimer’s statistics showed that deaths from the disease increased by 33%. The absence of effective cures or treatments, combined with an aging population, makes Alzheimer’s disease the health care crisis of the 21st century.
Recent Alzheimer’s statistics look pretty grim. There are now 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s in the U.S., up 10% from the last estimate. Every 72 seconds another person comes down with the affliction.
The leading risk factor for Alzheimer’s is aging. The post-WWII population bulge, the baby-boomers, are now beginning to turn 60. Unless cures or effective treatments are developed to stop or delay the start or the progression of Alzheimer’s, there will be 7.7 million people with the disease by 2030. By mid-century, the number of people with Alzheimer’s is projected to grow to as many as 16 million people. By mid-century there will be a new case every 33 seconds.
Current Alzheimer’s statistics reveal a cost that is staggering. As the impact of the disease grows, so does its cost for the country. The direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias currently amount to more than $148 billion annually.
Medicare currently spends almost 3 times as much for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias than for the normal Medicare beneficiary. Medicare costs are projected to double from $91 billion in 2005 to more than $189 billion by 2015. In 2005, state and federal Medicaid spending for nursing home and home care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias was estimated at $21 billion; that number is projected to increase to $27 billion by 2015.
As this problem becomes more obvious, more people are viewing it with alarm and starting to do something about it. The race is on amongst pharmaceutical companies to develop effective cures and treatments. Researchers are investigating many preventive steps that show great promise, including changes in lifestyle and diet.
Generally speaking, what’s good for your body/heart is also good for your mind/brain. Proper nutrition, dietary supplements, exercise of mind and body, avoiding known unhealthy habits – all play important rolls in preventing or delaying the onset of the disease. There are currently nine drugs in Phase III clinical trials for Alzheimer’s and many more in earlier stages of development. Many of these look quite promising to either avoid the disease or to slow or stop its progression.
There have also been great strides in the development of diagnostic tools, better brain scanners and body chemistry-based disease precursor detection methods. All of these in combination have the potential to change the current landscape of Alzheimer’s statistics and provide a basis for greatly improved projections.
For more information on Alzheimer’s statistics and Alzheimer’s prevention, follow the links below…