The annual death rate from Alzheimer's has nearly doubled in 15 years

Costs reach $ 259 billion a year, and are expected to be above $ 1 trillion by 2050, according to a report.

Alzheimer's ends the lives of nearly twice as many Americans every year now as 15 years ago, according to a new report.

"And frankly, that's alarming," said Keith Fargo, director of scientific and outreach programs at the Alzheimer's Association.

"Now a lot of people will think it's because we're living longer," he added. "And there is some truth to that, but it also takes for granted that we should simply expect to have Alzheimer's as we age, and that's not true."

"Most people do not end up with Alzheimer's, even though they live in their 80s or 90s." "It's not something that's normal, it's not something we should accept, we definitely have to do something about it," Fargo said. P>

The report also found that more than 5 million older Americans aged 65 and over are now living with this memory-terminating disease.

That represents approximately 10 percent of all older people in the country, and that figure is expected to increase to almost 14 million by 2050. In fact, it is anticipated that almost half a million people with advanced age will develop this disease Only in 2017.

Another 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 are also facing the disease, the report found.

And those statistics come at a remarkably high price: Alzheimer's care costs $ 259 billion a year. That figure is expected to hit $ 1.1 trillion by 2050, the report said. Dr. Anton Porsteinsson, director of the Alzheimer's Care, Research and Education Program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York, said the increase in numbers probably reflects a number of different factors At stake. "In part, this is due to the increase in the number of elderly people, partly due to the success in treating other major causes of death, and partly due to the increased awareness that Alzheimer's is a deadly disease, "said Porsteinsson.

Additional findings from the report include: Alzheimer's is now the fifth leading cause of death among older people; The sixth leading cause of death for all Americans, and the only disease among the top 10 leading causes of death for which there is no prevention, there is no way to slow progression and there is no cure. "And the costs are now completely out of control," Fargo added, as the total annual costs for Alzheimer's care and dementia exceed $ 250 billion.

Another concern that is emphasized is the "especially hard" experience of Alzheimer's caregivers when they treat the needs of loved ones as the patient suffers a mental and physical deterioration. P>

By 2016, more than 15 million Alzheimer's caregivers provide just over 18 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $ 230 billion.

And these caregivers suffer the consequences on their own health: More than a third (35 percent) report that their health has worsened since assuming their responsibility as caregivers, compared to 19 percent of caregivers of the elderly without dementia. Caregivers of people with dementia also suffer from depression and anxiety more often, according to the report.

However, the report was not entirely daunting, and found that increasing efforts are being made to identify the hallmarks of disease development. The aim is to focus on neurological signs (including changes in brain size, cerebrospinal fluid content, and / or nerve plate growth in the brain) that could allow the rapid detection of presymptomatic Alzheimer's .

"It's a window into the future," Fargo said. "If you ask where the Alzheimer's research is headed, it's there."

"We believe that in the coming years we will have tests that can be done in the doctor's office and that will allow you to know your risk of Alzheimer's," he said. And that, he suggested, "could open the door to prevention."

Fargo indicated that even in the absence of effective treatments or a cure, early diagnosis would be a blessing for research and would give patients the advantage of planning for the future.

Porsteinsson, however, suggested that the future of these characteristic signals, known as biomarkers, remains unclear. "Biomarkers are particularly important for research and development of possible future treatments," he said.

On the other hand, he emphasized that "the usefulness of the biomarkers in the current attention is being debated intensively".

"Biomarkers are expensive," said Porsteinsson. "And it's a question of how much a positive or negative finding will change the focus of medical care." "Having said that," he added, "it is often very important for patients and their families to know exactly what they have and what they can expect."

SOURCES: Keith Fargo, Ph.D., director, scientific programs and outreach, Alzheimer's Association, New York City; Anton Porsteinsson, M.D., professor, psychiatry, and director, Alzheimer's Disease Care, Research and Education Program, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, N.Y .; March 7, 2017, & nbsp; 2017 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures

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