WASHINGTON, DC, May 25, 2017—An analysis released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that Alzheimer’s deaths have increased by 55 percent from 1999-2014, a disturbing progression of a disease that has no cure. The findings accentuate the critical need for actions that improve rates of early diagnosis, enhance support for caregivers, address growing racial disparities, and increase funding for research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
While the new data reinforces the urgency that is required to address this growing public health crisis, the CDC numbers underrepresent the incidence of current Alzheimer’s deaths. According to recent independent studies, Alzheimer’s is underreported on death certificates by approximately six times, because cause of deaths are often attributed to a more immediate cause, like pneumonia or other infections, rather than due to the insidious and deteriorating effects of Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
In addition, just one in four people with Alzheimer’s has been diagnosed. The lack of early detection of Alzheimer’s, also a factor in the CDC’s underreporting of the disease, prevents many people with Alzheimer’s from developing a care plan and enrolling in potentially game-changing clinical trials.
“The CDC findings raise needed public awareness of how fast this disease is growing and destroying families, and how we must stand firm against any action that reduces the nation’s ability to innovate and speed cures,” said George Vradenburg, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Co-Founder and Chairman. “Alzheimer’s disease is a global scourge that is projected to triple in the coming decades. It is dramatic that minorities will be the majority of Americans with dementia by 2030, due to the disparate impact of disease.”
The analysis, which was published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, featured alarming statistics on the significant increase in Alzheimer’s deaths among women and within communities of color. According to the data, women are nearly 2.5 as likely as men to die from Alzheimer’s. African Americans, who are twice as likely as whites to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, saw a 99-percent increase in Alzheimer’s deaths. Hispanics, who are 1.5 times more likely than whites to get Alzheimer’s, saw a 107-percent spike. Asian/Pacific Islander communities were found to have the greatest jump in Alzheimer’s deaths (151 percent).
The CDC findings also found an increasing number (from 14 percent to 25 percent) of people dying at home rather than in nursing homes or medical facilities. This information illuminates the growing emotional and physical burden on the nation’s 15 million caregivers, who are most likely to be women and also provide more than 18 billion unpaid hours of support for loved ones.
“Alzheimer’s is a more complex disease than the CDC data suggests; it enacts an excruciating toll on families and particularly on women and in communities of color, where signs and symptoms more often go undetected,” said Jill Lesser, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Chief Strategy Officer and President of its Women’s Network. “We must continue to demand health benefits for families, to relieve them of the potentially harmful effects of caregiver burden. And we must educate all communities about the disease and the value of participating in medical research, which will ultimately yield a cure.”
UsAgainstAlzheimer’s (UsA2) is an innovative non-profit organization demanding – and delivering – a solution to Alzheimer’s. Driven by the suffering of millions of families, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s presses for greater urgency from government, industry and the scientific community in the quest for an Alzheimer's cure – accomplishing this through effective leadership, collaborative advocacy, and strategic investments.
Founded in 2010, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s has worked across sectors to: (1) secure the national goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025 and help secure nearly $500 million in additional public funding for Alzheimer’s research over the past few years; (2) drive global efforts that resulted in the leaders of the world’s most powerful nations, the G7 group, to embrace a similar 2025 goal and to call for greater levels of research investment and collaboration; and (3) forge industry commitments to improve efficiencies for an expedited drug discovery and approval process.
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