A new study of Alzheimer’s disease in America said that the number of sufferers is expected to double by 2060 to 15 million, up from this year’s rate of 6.08 million Americans that have the debilitating brain disease.
The study is the first of its kind said that early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment could reach to 47 million Americans.
The alarming numbers highlight the need to develop a treatment that could slow the progression of the disorder in people who show early neurological signs of the disease.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health examined the largest studies available on rates of progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that occurs when a build-up of abnormal proteins cause nerve cells to die, leading to severe memory loss and death.
The computer model projected the numbers of people did not show signs of the disease, and clinical disease conditions, versus those who did not show signs.
The results published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association showed that by 2060 about 5.7 million Americans would have a mild cognitive impairment, an intermediate stage involving loss of memory.
Researchers have estimated that in 2017, about 2.4 million Americans are living with mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease, with another 9.3 million projected to have dementia due to Alzheimer’s by 2060. Four million of those Americans will need an intensive level of care similar to that provided by nursing homes.
‘There are about 47 million people in the US today who have some evidence of preclinical Alzheimer’s, which means they have either a build-up of protein fragments called beta-amyloid or neurodegeneration of the brain but don’t yet have symptoms,’ said Ron Brookmeyer, lead study author, and professor at UCLA.
‘Many of them will not progress to Alzheimer’s dementia in their lifetimes. We need to have improved methods to identify which persons will progress to clinical symptoms, and develop interventions for them that could slow the progression of the disease, if not stop it all together,’ Brookmeyer added.
Alzheimer’s disease coming in fifth among people aged 65 to 85, is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the US.
Early symptoms can sometimes appear when a person is around 60 years old. They include short-term memory loss, disorientation, mood swings and behavioral changes. With later symptoms include severe memory loss and forgetting close family members, becoming anxious and frustrated over the inability to make sense of the world and loss of the ability to walk, eat or drink.
The average patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some may live for 10 to 15 years, with a majority of patients needing 24-hour professional care.
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