The Medical Minute: Rate of Alzheimer’s Deaths on the Rise
The rate of death from Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. increased by more than 50 percent in the past 15 years, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In part, it is because Americans are living longer – age is one of the biggest risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s. But it’s also because medical professionals can identify risk factors, recognize the symptoms and diagnose the disease earlier. In addition to cognitive impairment and behavioral decline, Alzheimer’s – which accounts for the majority of cases of dementia – causes deterioration of other systems of the body, leading physicians to include it as a cause of death alongside conditions it may cause, such as pneumonia or blot clots. Now, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death nationwide. It is estimated that one in every 10 Americans age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s dementia. Guidelines for diagnosing it were updated in 2012 to include use of biomarkers or genes to determine risk for the disease, in addition to family report, physician judgment and a neurological and cognitive exam.
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