We have given Alzheimer’s Disease its own page here because AD accounts for such a large number of all dementia cases (50-70%, with some estimates as high as 80%). The Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America are two good resources for detailed information on this type of dementia, but basic information is also featured below, along with various articles throughout this site.
Alzheimer’s disease is progressive in nature, meaning that it is not reversible, and it eventually leads to death. Every case of AD is different but the ultimate path of the disease is somewhat predictable and occurs slowly over the course of 2-20 years. It generally starts with deterioration in the Hippocampus, an inner structure of the brain associated with memory and learning. The disease then tends to spread from front to back of the cerebral cortex, until reaching the brain stem, where involuntary functions such as breathing, heart rate and blood pressure are regulated.
It’s often said that every case of AD is unique. Symptoms will vary from one individual to another and from day to day. Memory, problem solving and difficulty accomplishing familiar tasks are some of the earliest warning signs of AD. Sometimes other forms of dementia will also co-occur with AD, such as Vascular Dementia or Dementia with Lewy Bodies. And many studies have shown a strong correlation between AD and Type 2 Diabetes.
Here are some Alzheimer’s statistics at a glance:
- Approximately 5.4 million Americans had AD in 2010
- This number is projected to grow to 16 million by 2050
- Colorado had approximately 72,000 cases of AD in 2010
- Colorado‘s AD population is expected to grow to 110,000 by 2025
- About 1 in 8 people over 65 have AD
- Nearly 1 in 3 seniors over age 85 have AD
- Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in America and the 5th leading cause of death for those over 65
- In 2007, AD accounted for almost 4% of all deaths in Colorado
- Research for Alzheimer’s disease is relatively small (about $500-600 million per year) compared with research for cancer ($6 billion), AIDS ($3.2 billion) and heart disease ($2.2 billion)
The ultimate cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown and the spread of AD is irreversible and terminal. Random clinical studies are imperative to learn more about this insidious and epidemic disease.
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