Subscribe to eTOC

Alzheimer Disease Prevalence Rates Increase

Five million Americans are living with Alzheimer disease (AD), an increase of 10 percent since the last estimate five years ago, according to a report released by the Alzheimer's Association in March. Entitled “The Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures,” the report estimates that by 2050, the number is expected to have tripled due to more aging baby boomers.

The report's release was timed to Capitol new data were used to educate the legislators on the urgency of the need for more research funding for AD, according to Sam Gandy, MD, PhD, chair of the National Medical and Scientific Advisory Council of the Alzheimer's Association.

Among the findings: between 200,000 and 500,000 people under age 65 have early-onset AD or some form of dementia; AD is the seventh leading cause of death in the US; the fifth leading cause of death for Americans over 65; and AD deaths continued to increase (32.8 percent) between those years.


Dr. Sam Gandy said the new data were used to educate the legislators on the urgency of the need for more research funding for AD.

The national and state prevalence figures in the report are based primarily on published studies conducted by investigators at the Rush Institute on Healthy Aging and the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. Investigators analyzed the incidence of Alzheimer disease among residents aged 65 and over in a biracial Chicago community, and extrapolated the data to national prevalence based on census projections and population figures.

At the hearing, Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-NY) and Christopher Bond (R-MO) and Reps. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Christopher Smith (R-NJ) introduced a bipartisan bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to fund breakthroughs in AD research while providing more help to caregivers and increasing public education about prevention.

The Alzheimer's Breakthrough Act of 2007 (S.898/HR 1560) would double funding for Alzheimer research to $1.3 billion, and would make AD research a priority for the National Institute on Aging. The bill also authorizes an expanded campaign for the CDC to educate the public and health professionals about reducing the risks of developing AD and to encourage early detection. It will renew and expand the Alzheimer disease matching grants to states to continue innovative programs that support AD patients and their caregivers, and it authorizes $1 million for the Administration on Aging 24/7 National Alzheimer's Call Center.