What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that severely affects the elderly. Out of all of the subtypes of dementia, Alzheimer’s strikes the most frequently. Unfortunately, doctors and scientists are currently unsure of the causes of Alzheimer’s, although developments have been made as more has been discovered about the nature of the disease. The effects of Alzheimer’s take place in the realms of thought, memory, and language within the brain. It can be a truly debilitating disease.
Who has Alzheimer’s Disease?
People who are over the age of 60 are generally more susceptible to Alzheimer’s Disease, but it is possible for younger people to suffer from it as well. The older one becomes, the more likely he or she is to get the disease. In fact, approximately 5 percent of people over the age of 65 and below the age of 74 suffer from Alzheimer’s, and this statistic increases greatly for people who have reached 85. Although the disease is common, it is unnatural.
What causes Alzheimer’s Disease?
As noted above, researchers are currently unable to determine the causes of Alzheimer’s. They know that age is an important element and that people who are over 65 become more and more likely to acquire it as they grow older. Scientists believe that there may be more than one cause of the disease and that it does not have the same effect among different individuals.
While age is one important factor that places one at risk for Alzheimer’s, genetics may also be involved. Research shows that family history could affect whether a person will acquire the disease in old age.
Furthermore, researchers are examining additional factors, such as level of schooling and diet, in search of the cause of the disease. They are also examining patient diet over time to see if healthy versus unhealthy food consumption could be a cause. Thus far, they have found a correlation between the habits and dispositions that lead to heart disease and those that seem to lead to Alzheimer’s. This includes high blood pressure and cholesterol as well as a lack of vitamin folate. Scientists believe that certain activities may help prevent the disease.
What is the burden of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States?
Death rates as a result of Alzheimer’s are currently increasing in the United States. In fact, it is the 7th most common reason for adult death and the 5th for those who are over 65.
The number of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease has significantly increased. Twice as many people have it now as opposed to the number who suffered in 1980. Currently, about 5.3 million people are burdened by this disease in the United States. By 2050, researchers believe that up to 13.5 million people in the U.S. will have it.
Furthermore, while fewer than 13 percent of those who are supported by Medicare have Alzheimer’s, 34 percent of this program’s funds are used to assist those plagued by the disease.
Compliments of Kshamica Nimalasuriya MD, MPH
Preventive Medicine & Public Health