Rate of Alzheimer’s disease deaths jumped 54 pct. in 15 years, CDC finds

The rate of deaths related to Alzheimer’s disease jumped by 54.5 percent over 15 years, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were 93,541 deaths related to Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, a rate of 25.4 deaths per 100,000 population, up from 44,536 deaths in 1999, a rate of 16.5 death per 100,000 people, according to the report.

The disease currently affects an estimated 5.5 million people in the U.S. but that number is expected to rise dramatically in people over the age of 65 to 13.8 million in 2050. The researchers examined death certificate data from the National Vital Statistics System to reach their findings.

Keith Fargo, director of the scientific program at the Alzheimer’s Association, said that the study highlights the need for support and research into therapies to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s the only cause of death in the top 10 that does not have a way to prevent it or stop it,” Fargo told ABC News.

CDC researchers did not study why there was in an increase but reported one likely factor is that more people were surviving to old age. They found from 1999 to 2005 the greatest increase in mortality rate related to Alzheimer’s disease was in people over the age of 85.

Fargo said he was dismayed to see in the report that 24.9 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease were dying at home rather than in a medical facility.

“Before you die people become completely bed bound,” said Fargo. “It requires and intense level of caregiving to the end.”

Fargo said the fact that more people were dying at home indicated that people did not have the resources to get appropriate help at long-term care facilities like nursing homes. Fargo said providing that level of care can take a severe toll emotionally and physically. The CDC estimates caregivers provided 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care to dementia patients in 2015.

“The caregivers for Alzheimer’s disease have $9 billion more in Medicare claims of their own,” in addition to the claims of their loved ones Fargo said. Caregiving is “so stressful it takes a physical toll on the bodies.”

The CDC researchers point out that increasing rates of Alzheimer’s disease will mean more people need support to care and treat these patients.

“Until Alzheimer’s can be prevented, slowed, or stopped, caregiving for persons with advanced Alzheimer’s will remain a demanding task,” the authors wrote. “An increasing number of Alzheimer’s deaths coupled with an increasing number of patients dying at home suggests that there is an increasing number of caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s. It is likely that these caregivers might benefit from interventions such as education, respite care, and case management that can lessen the potential burden of caregiving.”

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