The rate of deaths from Alzheimer’s disease increased 55% between 1999 and 2014, according to CDC data recently published in MMWR.
The same data indicated the number of deaths at home attributable to the disease also increased from 14% to 25% during the same time period.
“Millions of Americans and their family members are profoundly affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Our new study reveals an increase in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease-related deaths.” CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, MD, said in a press release. “As the number of older Americans with Alzheimer’s disease rises, more family members are taking on the emotionally and physically challenging role of caregiver than ever before. These families need and deserve our support.”
According to the CDC, this is the first study to provide county-level rates for deaths caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
A team led by Christopher A. Taylor, PhD, of the CDC’s division of scientific education and professional development, determined mortality rates using population estimates produced by the U.S. Census Bureau in collaboration with CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. Age-adjusted mortality rates were calculated using the 2000 U.S. standard population. Researchers used joinpoint regression to test the significance of trends in age-specific rates from 1999 to 2014.
Other notable findings included in the report, which is the first to provide county level rates for deaths caused by Alzheimer’s disease, include:
•age-adjusted rates of Alzheimer’s mortality significantly increased in 41 states and the District of Columbia from 1999 to 2014;
•most Alzheimer’s deaths still occur in a nursing home or long-term care facility, but fewer in 2014 (54%) than in 1999 (68%);
•counties with the highest death rates were primarily in the Southeast; other areas with high rates included the Midwest and West Coast; and
•only one state, Maine, had a significant decrease in age-adjusted Alzheimer’s disease deaths.
Researchers suggested that their findings indicate caregivers need greater support to care for patients with the disease.
“Significant increases in Alzheimer’s deaths coupled with an increase in the number of persons with Alzheimer’s dying at home have likely added to the burden on family members or other unpaid caregivers,” Taylor and colleagues wrote. “Caregivers might benefit from interventions such as education, respite care, and case management that can lessen the potential burden of caregiving and can improve the care received by persons with Alzheimer’s.”
Previous CDC data show that Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, affecting an estimated 5.5 million adults in the United States and is expected to affect 13.8 million U. S. adults aged 65 years and older by 2050.
Modifiable risk factors associated with an increased risk for dementia include CVD, obesity and years of education, have been identified as factors associated with an increased risk for dementia, according to the CDC. – by Janel Miller
Disclosure: Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine researchers’ relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.