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US Alzheimer’s, dementia burden to double by 2060, CDC warns

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday revealed that the country’s burden of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias will double by the year 2060.

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In 2014, 5 million Americans — or 1.6 percent of the population — felt the burden of the diseases. The figure is expected to grow to 13.9 million, equating to nearly 3.3 percent of the projected population in 2060.

The estimates are part of the agency’s recent study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. Researchers examined data from the U.S. Census and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the projections.

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Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, the death rate from the disease has risen by 55 percent in recent decades, according to the CDC. And in Georgia, the number of deaths from Alzheimer's has increased by 201 percent since 2000, according to Georgia Health News.

The CDC’s recent research, the first to factor in race and ethnicity in its forecast, suggests Hispanic Americans will face the largest projected increase, largely due to population growth.

>> Related: U.S. Alzheimer’s deaths up 55 percent, CDC says

Non-Hispanic whites are still expected to have the largest total number of Alzheimer’s cases.

“This study shows that as the U.S. population increases, the number of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias will rise, especially among minority populations,” CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said in the news release. “Early diagnosis is key to helping people and their families cope with loss of memory, navigate the health care system, and plan for their care in the future.”

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Other key Alzheimer’s- and dementia-related projections for 2060, according to the CDC:

  • Hispanic Americans will face the largest projected increase (3.2 million).
  • About 2.2 million African Americans are estimated to live with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
  • Prevalence among African Americans age 65 and older: 13.8 percent
  • Prevalence among Hispanic Americans age 65 and older: 12.2 percent 
  • Prevalence among non-Hispanic whites age 65 and older: 10.3 percent 
  • Prevalence among American Indian and Alaska natives age 65 and older: 9.1 percent
  • Prevalence among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders age 65 and older: 8.4 percent

Why will there be such a significant increase?

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According to the CDC, “the increases are a result of fewer people dying from other chronic diseases and surviving into older adulthood when the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias increases.” The population of the United States is also projected to grow by about 100 million by 2060.

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