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Alzheimer's Disease

Narrative

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia.1 Early signs include difficulty remembering names and completing familiar tasks, with later disease progression leading to disorientation, personality changes, and difficulty speaking, swallowing, and walking. Although the risk for Alzheimer's disease increases with age, it is not a normal part of aging. Risk factors include a family history, head trauma or traumatic brain injury, and cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, and physical inactivity.

In 2012, 5.2 million or 13 percent of U.S. adults aged 65 and older are estimated to have Alzheimer's disease and another 200,000 below age 65 are thought to have early-onset Alzheimer's. Due to the aging of the population, the number of adults aged 65 and older with Alzheimer's disease is expected to triple by 2050.1 Women constitute 3.4 million or nearly two-thirds of adults aged 65 and older with Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's disease is the fifth leading cause of death among men and women aged 65 and older.1 Severe dementia causes complications, such as immobility and swallowing disorders, that can lead to death. In 2010, 205.2 per 100,000 or nearly 83,000 adults aged 65 and older, about 70 percent of whom were women, died of Alzheimer's. The risk of death due to Alzheimer's increases greatly with age, ranging from 19.8 deaths per 100,000 for those aged 65–74 years to 987.1 deaths per 100,000 for those aged 85 and older. Overall, women are about 75 percent more likely than men to die of Alzheimer's disease (257.6 versus 144.0 deaths per 100,000 adults aged 65 and older). The greater rates of Alzheimer's prevalence and mortality among women are related to their longer life expectancy rather than an increased sex-specific risk of disease.1

Not only are women more likely than men to have Alzheimer's, they are also more likely to be caregivers for someone with Alzheimer's—exacting a substantial toll of emotional and physical stress. Of the nearly 15 million Americans who provide unpaid care for a person with Alzheimer's or another dementia, about 70 percent are women.1 Given the large and increasing burden of Alzheimer's disease, advances in prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment are greatly needed. In 2011, a new diagnostic category of "preclinical Alzheimer's disease" was developed to aid research for early detection and treatment prior to the onset of symptoms.1

1 Alzheimer’s Association. 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Accessed 06/11/12.

Graphs

Data

Adults Aged 65 and Older with Alzheimer’s Disease,* By Sex, 2012

Number of Adults with Alzheimer’s Disease:

  • Male: 3,400,000
  • Female: 1,800,000

*Estimates are based on the Chicago Health and Aging Project incidence rates converted to prevalence estimates and applied to population projections; assumes the same proportion female as in 2010.

Source: Alzheimer’s Association. 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Accessed 06/11/12.

Deaths Due to Alzheimer’s Disease* per 100,000 Adults Aged 65 and Older, By Age and Sex, 2010
Age Group Deaths per 100,000 Adults
Total Female Male
*Deaths with Alzheimer’s disease listed as underlying cause. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2010 on CDC WONDER online Database, released 2012. Data for year 2010 are compiled from the Multiple Cause of Death File 2010, Series No. 2P, 2012. Accessed November 17, 2012.
Total 205.2 251.6 144.0
65-74 Years 19.8 20.7 18.6
75-84 Years 184.5 198.2 165.5
85 Years and Older 987.1 1,084.8 784.9