Alzheimer's Disease Rate Expected to Triple by 2050

First Posted: Feb 07, 2013 08:15 AM EST

New findings have shown some disturbing news. The number of people with Alzheimer's disease in the U.S. is expected to triple in the next 40 years.

The study, published online in Neurology, analyzed information from 10,802 people living in Chicago between 1993 and 2011. Aged 65 or older, these participants were then interviewed by researchers and assessed for dementia every three years. Factors such as age, race and education were taken into account in in order to make the study viable. Jennifer Weuve, co-author of the study, and her team then combined the data they collected with U.S. death rates, education and current and future population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

After some calculations, the researchers found that the total number of people with Alzheimer's disease in 2050 will rise from 4.7 million in 2010 to 13.8 million. About 7 million of those projected to develop the disease, though, will be age 85 or older in 2050.

As life span increases and as health care grows, people are living longer and longer. In addition, the age ratio in the next 40 years is expected to tip toward the older side, meaning that there will be more older people than younger people than there are today. This could partially explain the massive increase in patients in 2050.

It's not all doom and gloom, either. Recently, researchers have made great strides when it comes to studying Alzheimer's disease. A new system which is currently being tested implants a 'pacemaker' type device into the patient. This device then sends tiny shocks into the brain which, in theory, will help stimulate brain function and delay Alzheimer's. In addition, scientists have found that merely changing one's diet can help slow the progression of the disease.

While researchers try to find the cure for Alzheimer's, though, this new study shows that it's important to prepare for the wave of new patients that will develop the disease. With new health care reforms in the mix, it's crucial to keep these figures in mind.

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