This month is Alzheimer’s awareness month. To draw attention to the burden of irreversible, progressive brain disorder, today the Healthcare Economist is providing some facts about the disease, courtesy of the CDC, the Mayo Clinic, NIH
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. It’s the most common cause of dementia — a group of brain disorders that results in the loss of intellectual and social skills. These changes are severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life. In Alzheimer’s disease, the brain cells themselves degenerate and die, causing a steady decline in memory and mental function. Current Alzheimer’s disease medications and management strategies may temporarily improve symptoms.
Alzheimer’s disease damages and kills brain cells, in part through two common abnormalities known as beta-amyloid plaques and tangles. The disease typically begins around age 60 and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease increases with age.
The CDC estimates that 5 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease, but the prevalence is expected to rise to 14 million by 2050. Almost half of nursing home residents have Alzheimer’s disease.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
Here is a video from PBS describing the evolution of Alzheimer’s.